Paris, May 28, 1656
    You did not suppose that anybody would have the curiosity to
know who we were; but it seems there are people who are trying to make
it out, though they are not very happy in their conjectures. Some take
me for a doctor of the Sorbonne; others ascribe my letters to four
or five persons, who, like me, are neither priests nor Churchmen.
All these false surmises convince me that I have succeeded pretty well
in my object, which was to conceal myself from all but yourself and
the worthy monk, who still continues to bear with my visits, while I
still contrive, though with considerable difficulty, to bear with
his conversations. I am obliged, however, to restrain myself; for,
were he to discover how much I am shocked at his communications, he
would discontinue them and thus put it out of my power to fulfil the
promise I gave you, of making you acquainted with their morality.
You ought to think a great deal of the violence which I thus do to
my own feelings. It is no easy matter, I can assure you, to stand
still and see the whole system of Christian ethics undermined by
such a set of monstrous principles, without daring to put in a word of
flat contradiction against them. But, after having borne so much for
your satisfaction, I am resolved I shall burst out for my own
satisfaction in the end, when his stock of information has been
exhausted. Meanwhile, I shall repress my feelings as much as I
possibly can for I find that the more I hold my tongue, he is the more
communicative. The last time I saw him, he told me so many things that
I shall have some difficulty in repeating them all. On the point of
restitution you will find they have some most convenient principles.
For, however the good monk palliates his maxims, those which I am
about to lay before you really go to sanction corrupt judges, usurers,
bankrupts, thieves, prostitutes and sorcerers- all of whom are most
liberally absolved from the obligation of restoring their ill-gotten
gains. It was thus the monk resumed the conversation:
    "At the commencement of our interviews, I engaged to explain to
you the maxims of our authors for all ranks and classes; and you
have already seen those that relate to beneficiaries, to priests, to
monks, to domestics, and to gentlemen. Let us now take a cursory
glance at the remaining, and begin with the judges.
    "Now I am going to tell you one of the most important and
advantageous maxims which our fathers have laid down in their
favour. Its author is the learned Castro Palao, one of our
four-and-twenty elders. His words are: 'May a judge, in a question
of right and wrong, pronounce according to a probable opinion, in
preference to the more probable opinion? He may, even though it should
be contrary to his own judgement- imo contra propriam opinionem.'"
    "Well, father," cried I, "that is a very fair commencement! The
judges, surely, are greatly obliged to you; and I am surprised that
they should be so hostile, as we have sometimes observed, to your
probabilities, seeing these are so favourable to them. For it would
appear from this that you give them the same power over men's fortunes
as you have given to yourselves over their consciences."
    "You perceive we are far from being actuated by self-interest,"
returned he; "we have had no other end in view than the repose of
their consciences; and to the same useful purpose has our great Molina
devoted his attention, in regard to the presents which may be made
them. To remove any scruples which they might entertain in accepting
of these on certain occasions, he has been at the pains to draw out
a list of all those cases in which bribes may be taken with a good
conscience, provided, at least, there be no special law forbidding
them. He says: 'Judges may receive presents from parties when they are
given them either for friendship's sake, or in gratitude for some
former act of justice, or to induce them to give justice in future, or
to oblige them to pay particular attention to their case, or to engage
them to despatch it promptly.' The learned Escobar delivers himself to
the same effect: 'If there be a number of persons, none of whom have
more right than another to have their causes disposed of, will the
judge who accepts of something from one of them, on condition-
expacto- of taking up his cause first, be guilty of sin? Certainly
not, according to Layman; for, in common equity, he does no injury
to the rest by granting to one, in consideration of his present,
what he was at liberty to grant to any of them he pleased; and
besides, being under an equal obligation to them all in respect of
their right, he becomes more obliged to the individual who furnished
the donation, who thereby acquired for himself a preference above
the rest- a preference which seems capable of a pecuniary valuation-
quae obligatio videtur pretio aestimabilis.'"
    "May it please your reverence," said I, "after such a
permission, I am surprised that the first magistrates of the kingdom
should know no better. For the first president has actually carried an
order in Parliament to prevent certain clerks of court from taking
money for that very sort of preference- a sign that he is far from
thinking it allowable in judges; and everybody has applauded this as a
reform of great benefit to all parties."
    The worthy monk was surprised at this piece of intelligence, and
replied: "Are you sure of that? I heard nothing about it. Our opinion,
recollect, is only probable; the contrary is probable also."
    "To tell you the truth, father," said I, "people think that the
first president has acted more than probably well, and that he has
thus put a stop to a course of public corruption which has been too
long winked at."
    "I am not far from being of the same mind," returned he; "but
let us waive that point, and say no more about the judges."
    "You are quite right, sir," said I; "indeed, they are not half
thankful enough for all you have done for them."
    "That is not my reason," said the father; "but there is so much to
be said on all the different classes that we must study brevity on
each of them. Let us now say a word or two about men of business.
You are aware that our great difficulty with these gentlemen is to
keep them from usury- an object to accomplish which our fathers have
been at particular pains; for they hold this vice in such abhorrence
that Escobar declares 'it is heresy to say that usury is no sin';
and Father Bauny has filled several pages of his Summary of Sins
with the pains and penalties due to usurers. He declares them
'infamous during their life, and unworthy of sepulture after their
    "O dear! " cried I, "I had no idea he was so severe."
    "He can be severe enough when there is occasion for it," said
the monk; "but then this learned casuist, having observed that some
are allured into usury merely from the love of gain, remarks in the
same place that 'he would confer no small obligation on society,
who, while he guarded it against the evil effects of usury, and of the
sin which gives birth to it, would suggest a method by which one's
money might secure as large, if not a larger profit, in some honest
and lawful employment than he could derive from usurious dealings."
    "Undoubtedly, father, there would be no more usurers after that."
    "Accordingly," continued he, "our casuist has suggested 'a general
method for all sorts of persons- gentlemen, presidents,
councillors,' &c.; and a very simple process it is, consisting only in
the use of certain words which must be pronounced by the person in the
act of lending his money; after which he may take his interest for
it without fear of being a usurer, which he certainly would be on
any other plan."
    "And pray what may those mysterious words be, father?"
    "I will give you them exactly in his own words," said the
father; "for he has written his Summary in French, you know, 'that
it may be understood by everybody,' as he says in the preface: 'The
person from whom the loan is asked must answer, then, in this
manner: I have got no money to lend, I have got a little, however,
to lay out for an honest and lawful profit. If you are anxious to have
the sum you mention in order to make something of it by your industry,
dividing the profit and loss between us, I may perhaps be able to
accommodate you. But now I think of it, as it may be a matter of
difficulty to agree about the profit, if you will secure me a
certain portion of it, and give me so much for my principal, so that
it incur no risk, we may come to terms much sooner, and you shall
touch the cash immediately.' Is not that an easy plan for gaining
money without sin? And has not Father Bauny good reason for concluding
with these words: 'Such, in my opinion, is an excellent plan by
which a great many people, who now provoke the just indignation of God
by their usuries, extortions, and illicit bargains, might save
themselves, in the way of making good, honest, and legitimate
    "O sir!" I exclaimed, "what potent words these must be!
Doubtless they must possess some latent virtue to chase away the demon
of usury which I know nothing of, for, in my poor judgement, I
always thought that that vice consisted in recovering more money
that what was lent."
    "You know little about it indeed," he replied. "Usury, according
to our fathers, consists in little more than the intention of taking
the interest as usurious. Escobar, accordingly, shows you how you
may avoid usury by a simple shift of the intention. 'It would be
downright usury,' says he 'to take interest from the borrower, if we
should exact it as due in point of justice; but if only exacted as due
in point of gratitude, it is not usury. Again, it is not lawful to
have directly the intention of profiting by the money lent; but to
claim it through the medium of the benevolence of the borrower-
media benevolentia- is not usury.' These are subtle methods; but, to
my mind, the best of them all (for we have a great choice of them)
is that of the Mohatra bargain."
    "The Mohatra, father!"
    "You are not acquainted with it, I see," returned he. "The name is
the only strange thing about it. Escobar will explain it to you:
'The Mohatra bargain is effected by the needy person purchasing some
goods at a high price and on credit, in order to sell them over again,
at the same time and to the same merchant, for ready money and at a
cheap rate.' This is what we call the Mohatra- a sort of bargain,
you perceive, by which a person receives a certain sum of ready
money by becoming bound to pay more."
    "But, sir, I really think nobody but Escobar has employed such a
term as that; is it to be found in any other book?"
    "How little you do know of what is going on, to be sure!" cried
the father. "Why, the last work on theological morality, printed at
Paris this very year, speaks of the Mohatra, and learnedly, too. It is
called Epilogus Summarum, and is an abridgment of all the summaries of
divinity- extracted from Suarez, Sanchez, Lessius, Fagundez,
Hurtado, and other celebrated casuists, as the title bears. There
you will find it said, on p. 54, that 'the Mohatra bargain takes place
when a man who has occasion for twenty pistoles purchases from a
merchant goods to the amount of thirty pistoles, payable within a
year, and sells them back to him on the spot for twenty pistoles ready
money.' This shows you that the Mohatra is not such an unheard-of term
as you supposed."
    "But, father, is that sort of bargain lawful?"
    "Escobar," replied he, "tells us in the same place that there
are laws which prohibit it under very severe penalties."
    "It is useless, then, I suppose?"
    "Not at all; Escobar, in the same passage, suggests expedients for
making it lawful: 'It is so, even though the principal intention
both of the buyer and seller is to make money by the transaction,
provided the seller, in disposing of the goods, does not exceed
their highest price, and in re-purchasing them does not go below their
lowest price, and that no previous bargain has been made, expressly or
otherwise.' Lessius, however, maintains that 'even though the merchant
has sold his goods, with the intention of re-purchasing them at the
lowest price, he is not bound to make restitution of the profit thus
acquired, unless, perhaps, as an act of charity, in the case of the
person from whom it had been exacted being in poor circumstances,
and not even then, if he cannot do it without inconvenience- si
commode non potest.' This is the utmost length to which they could
    "Indeed, sir," said I, "any further indulgence would, I should
think, be rather too much."
    "Oh, our fathers know very well when it is time for them to stop!"
cried the monk. "So much, then, for the utility of the Mohatra. I
might have mentioned several other methods, but these may suffice; and
I have now to say a little in regard to those who are in embarrassed
circumstances. Our casuists have sought to relieve them, according
to their condition of life. For, if they have not enough of property
for a decent maintenance, and at the same time for paying their debts,
they permit them to secure a portion by making a bankruptcy with their
creditors. This has been decided by Lessius, and confirmed by Escobar,
as follows: 'May a person who turns bankrupt, with a good conscience
keep back as much of his personal estate as may be necessary to
maintain his family in a respectable way- ne indecore vivat? I hold,
with Lessius, that he may, even though he may have acquired his wealth
unjustly and by notorious crimes- ex injustilia et notorio delicto;
only, in this case, he is not at liberty to retain so large an
amount as he otherwise might.'"
    "Indeed, father! what a strange sort of charity is this, to
allow property to remain in the hands of the man who has acquired it
by rapine, to support him in his extravagance rather than go into
the hands of his creditors, to whom it legitimately belongs!"
    "It is impossible to please everybody," replied the father; "and
we have made it our particular study to relieve these unfortunate
people. This partiality to the poor has induced our great Vasquez,
cited by Castro Palao, to say that 'if one saw a thief going to rob
a poor man, it would be lawful to divert him from his purpose by
pointing out to him some rich individual, whom he might rob in place
of the other.' If you have not access to Vasquez or Castro Palao,
you will find the same thing in your copy of Escobar; for, as you
are aware, his work is little more than a compilation from twenty-four
of the most celebrated of our fathers. You will find it in his
treatise, entitled The Practice of our Society, in the Matter of
Charity towards our Neighbours."
    "A very singular kind of charity this," I observed, "to save one
man from suffering loss, by inflicting it upon another! But I
suppose that, to complete the charity, the charitable adviser would be
bound in conscience to restore to the rich man the sum which he had
made him lose?"
    "Not at all, sir," returned the monk; "for he did not rob the man-
he only advised the other to do it. But only attend to this notable
decision of Father Bauny, on a case which will still more astonish
you, and in which you would suppose there was a much stronger
obligation to make restitution. Here are his identical words: 'A
person asks a soldier to beat his neighbour, or to set fire to the
barn of a man that has injured him. The question is whether, in the
essence of the soldier, the person who employed him to commit these
outrages is bound to make reparation out of his own pocket for the
damage that has followed? My opinion is that he is not. For none can
be held bound to restitution, where there has been no violation of
justice; and is justice violated by asking another to do us a
favour? As to the nature of the request which he made, he is at
liberty either to acknowledge or deny it; to whatever side he may
incline, it is a matter of mere choice; nothing obliges him to it,
unless it may be the goodness, gentleness, and easiness of his
disposition. If the soldier, therefore, makes no reparation for the
mischief he has done, it ought not to be exacted from him at whose
request he injured the innocent.'"
    This sentence had very nearly broken up the whole conversation,
for I was on the point of bursting into a laugh at the idea of the
goodness and gentleness of a burner of barns, and at these strange
sophisms which would exempt from the duty of restitution the principal
and real incendiary, whom the civil magistrate would not exempt from
the halter. But, had I not restrained myself, the worthy monk, who was
perfectly serious, would have been displeased; he proceeded,
therefore, without any alteration of countenance, in his observations.
    "From such a mass of evidence, you ought to be satisfied now of
the futility of your objections; but we are losing sight of our
subject. To revert, then, to the succour which our fathers apply to
persons in straitened circumstances, Lessius, among others,
maintains that 'it is lawful to steal, not only in a case of extreme
necessity, but even where the necessity is grave, though not
    "This is somewhat startling, father," said I. "There are very
few people in this world who do not consider their cases of
necessity to be grave ones, and to whom, accordingly, you would not
give the right of stealing with a good conscience. And, though you
should restrict the permission to those only who are really and
truly in that condition, you open the door to an infinite number of
petty larcenies which the magistrates would punish in spite of your
grave necessity, and which you ought to repress on a higher principle-
you who are bound by your office to be the conservators, not of
justice only, but of charity between man and man, a grace which this
permission would destroy. For after all, now, is it not a violation of
the law of charity, and of our duty to our neighbour, to deprive a man
of his property in order to turn it to our own advantage? Such, at
least, is the way I have been taught to think hitherto."
    "That will not always hold true," replied the monk; "for our great
Molina has taught us that 'the rule of charity does not bind us to
deprive ourselves of a profit, in order thereby to save our
neighbour from a corresponding loss.' He advances this in
corroboration of what he had undertaken to prove- 'that one is not
bound in conscience to restore the goods which another had put into
his hands in order to cheat his creditors.' Lessius holds the same
opinion, on the same ground. Allow me to say, sir, that you have too
little compassion for people in distress. Our fathers have had more
charity than that comes to: they render ample justice to the poor,
as well as the rich; and, I may add, to sinners as well as saints.
For, though far from having any predilection for criminals, they do
not scruple to teach that the property gained by crime may be lawfully
retained. 'No person,' says Lessius, speaking generally, 'is bound,
either by the law of nature or by positive laws (that is, by any law),
to make restitution of what has been gained by committing a criminal
action, such as adultery, even though that action is contrary to
justice.' For, as Escobar comments on this writer, 'though the
property which a woman acquires by adultery is certainly gained in
an illicit way, yet once acquired, the possession of it is lawful-
quamvis mulier illicite acquisat, licite tamen retinet acquisita.'
It is on this principle that the most celebrated of our writers have
formally decided that the bribe received by a judge from one of the
parties who has a bad case, in order to procure an unjust decision
in his favour, the money got by a soldier for killing a man, or the
emoluments gained by infamous crimes, may be legitimately retained.
Escobar, who has collected this from a number of our authors, lays
down this general rule on the point that 'the means acquired by
infamous courses, such as murder, unjust decisions, profligacy, &c.,
are legitimately possessed, and none are obliged to restore them.'
And, further, 'they may dispose of what they have received for
homicide, profligacy, &c., as they please; for the possession is just,
and they have acquired a propriety in the fruits of their iniquity.'"
    "My dear father," cried I, "this is a mode of acquisition which
I never heard of before; and I question much if the law will hold it
good, or if it will consider assassination, injustice, and adultery,
as giving valid titles to property."
    "I do not know what your law-books may say on the point," returned
the monk; "but I know well that our books, which are the genuine rules
for conscience, bear me out in what I say. It is true they make one
exception, in which restitution is positively enjoined; that is, in
the case of any receiving money from those who have no right to
dispose of their property such as minors and monks. 'Unless,' says the
great Molina, 'a woman has received money from one who cannot dispose'
of it, such as a monk or a minor- nisi mulier accepisset ab eo qui
alienare non potest, ut a religioso et filio familias. In this case
she must give back the money.' And so says Escobar."
    "May it please your reverence," said I, "the monks, I see, are
more highly favoured in this way than other people."
    "By no means," he replied; "have they not done as much generally
for all minors, in which class monks may be viewed as continuing all
their lives? It is barely an act of justice to make them an exception;
but with regard to all other people, there is no obligation whatever
to refund to them the money received from them for a criminal
action. For, as has been amply shown by Lessius, 'a wicked action
may have its price fixed in money, by calculating the advantage
received by the person who orders it to be done and the trouble
taken by him who carries it into execution; on which account the
latter is not bound to restore the money he got for the deed, whatever
that may have been- homicide, injustice, or a foul act' (for such
are the illustrations which he uniformly employs in this question);
'unless he obtained the money from those having no right to dispose of
their property. You may object, perhaps, that he who has obtained
money for a piece of wickedness is sinning and, therefore, ought
neither to receive nor retain it. But I reply that, after the thing is
done, there can be no sin either in giving or in receiving payment for
it.' The great Filiutius enters still more minutely into details,
remarking 'that a man is bound in conscience to vary his payments
for actions of this sort, according to the different conditions of the
individuals who commit them, and some may bring a higher price than
others.' This he confirms by very solid arguments."
    He then pointed out to me, in his authors, some things of this
nature so indelicate that I should be ashamed to repeat them; and
indeed the monk himself, who is a good man, would have been
horrified at them himself, were it not for the profound respect
which he entertains for his fathers, and which makes him receive
with veneration everything that proceeds from them. Meanwhile, I
held my tongue, not so much with the view of allowing him to enlarge
on this matter as from pure astonishment at finding the books of men
in holy orders stuffed with sentiments at once so horrible, so
iniquitous, and so silly. He went on, therefore, without
interruption in his discourse, concluding as follows:
    "From these premisses, our illustrious Molina decides the
following question (and after this, I think you will have got enough):
'If one has received money to perpetrate a wicked action, is he
obliged to restore it? We must distinguish here,' says this great man;
'if he has not done the deed, he must give back the cash; if he has,
he is under no such obligation!' Such are some of our principles
touching restitution. You have got a great deal of instruction to-day;
and I should like, now, to see what proficiency you have made. Come,
then, answer me this question: 'Is a judge, who has received a sum
of money from one of the parties before him, in order to pronounce a
judgement in his favour, obliged to make restitution?'"
    "You were just telling me a little ago, father, that he was not."
    "I told you no such thing," replied the father; "did I express
myself so generally? I told you he was not bound to make
restitution, provided he succeeded in gaining the cause for the
party who had the wrong side of the question. But if a man has justice
on his side, would you have him to purchase the success of his
cause, which is his legitimate right? You are very unconscionable.
Justice, look you, is a debt which the judge owes, and therefore he
cannot sell it; but he cannot be said to owe injustice, and
therefore he may lawfully receive money for it. All our leading
authors, accordingly, agree in teaching 'that though a judge is
bound to restore the money he had received for doing an act of
justice, unless it was given him out of mere generosity, he is not
obliged to restore what he has received from a man in whose favour
he has pronounced an unjust decision.'"
    This preposterous decision fairly dumbfounded me, and, while I was
musing on its pernicious tendencies, the monk had prepared another
question for me. "Answer me again," said he, "with a little more
circumspection. Tell me now, 'if a man who deals in divination is
obliged to make restitution of the money he has acquired in the
exercise of his art?'"
    "Just as you please, your reverence," said I.
    "Eh! what!- just as I please! Indeed, but you are a pretty
scholar! It would seem, according to your way of talking, that the
truth depended on our will and pleasure. I see that, in the present
case, you would never find it out yourself: so I must send you to
Sanchez for a solution of the problem- no less a man than Sanchez.
In the first place, he makes a distinction between 'the case of the
diviner who has recourse to astrology and other natural means, and
that of another who employs the diabolical art. In the one case, he
says, the diviner is bound to make restitution; in the other he is
not.' Now, guess which of them is the party bound?"
    "It is not difficult to find out that," said I.
    "I see what you mean to say," he replied. "You think that he ought
to make restitution in the case of his having employed the agency of
demons. But you know nothing about it; it is just the reverse. 'If,'
says Sanchez, 'the sorcerer has not taken care and pains to
discover, by means of the devil, what he could not have known
otherwise, he must make restitution- si nullam operam apposuit ut arte
diaboli id sciret, but if he has been at that trouble, he is not
    "And why so, father?"
    "Don't you See?" returned he. "It is because men may truly
divine by the aid of the devil, whereas astrology is a mere sham."
    "But, sir, should the devil happen not to tell the truth (and he
is not much more to be trusted than astrology), the magician must, I
should think, for the same reason, be obliged to make restitution?"
    "Not always," replied the monk: "Distinguo, as Sanchez says, here.
If the magician be ignorant of the diabolic art- si sit artis
diabolicae ignarus- he is bound to restore: but if he is an expert
sorcerer, and has done all in his power to arrive at the truth, the
obligation ceases; for the industry of such a magician may be
estimated at a certain sum of money.'"
    "There is some sense in that," I said; "for this is an excellent
plan to induce sorcerers to aim at proficiency in their art, in the
hope of making an honest livelihood, as you would say, by faithfully
serving the public."
    "You are making a jest of it, I suspect," said the father: "that
is very wrong. If you were to talk in that way in places where you
were not known, some people might take it amiss and charge you with
turning sacred subjects into ridicule."
    "That, father, is a charge from which I could very easily
vindicate myself; for certain I am that whoever will be at the trouble
to examine the true meaning of my words will find my object to be
precisely the reverse; and perhaps, sir, before our conversations
are ended, I may find an opportunity of making this very amply
    "Ho, ho," cried the monk, "there is no laughing in your head now."
    "I confess," said I, "that the suspicion that I intended to
laugh at things sacred would be as painful for me to incur as it would
be unjust in any to entertain it."
    "I did not say it in earnest," returned the father; "but let us
speak more seriously."
    "I am quite disposed to do so, if you prefer it; that depends upon
you, father. But I must say, that I have been astonished to see your
friends carrying their attentions to all sorts and conditions of men
so far as even to regulate the legitimate gains of sorcerers."
    "One cannot write for too many people," said the monk, "nor be too
minute in particularising cases, nor repeat the same things too
often in different books. You may be convinced of this by the
following anecdote, which is related by one of the gravest of our
fathers, as you may well suppose, seeing he is our present Provincial-
the reverend Father Cellot: 'We know a person,' says he, 'who was
carrying a large sum of money' in his pocket to restore it, in
obedience to the orders of his confessor, and who, stepping into a
bookseller's shop by the way, inquired if there was anything new?-
numquid novi?- when the bookseller showed him a book on moral
theology, recently published; and turning over the leaves
carelessly, and without reflection, he lighted upon a passage
describing his own case, and saw that he was under no obligation to
make restitution: upon which, relieved from the burden of his
scruples, he returned home with a purse no less heavy, and a heart
much lighter, than when he left it- abjecta scrupuli sarcina,
retento auri pondere, levior domum repetiit.'
    "Say, after hearing that, if it is useful or not to know our
maxims? Will you laugh at them now? or rather, are you not prepared to
join with Father Cellot in the pious reflection which he makes on
the blessedness of that incident? 'Accidents of that kind,' he
remarks, 'are, with God, the effect of his providence; with the
guardian angel, the effect of his good guidance; with the
individuals to whom they happen, the effect of their predestination.
From all eternity, God decided that the golden chain of their
salvation should depend on such and such an author, and not upon a
hundred others who say the same thing, because they never happen to
meet with them. Had that man not written, this man would not have been
saved. All, therefore, who find fault with the multitude of our
authors, we would beseech, in the bowels of Jesus Christ, to beware of
envying others those books which the eternal election of God and the
blood of Jesus Christ have purchased for them!' Such are the
eloquent terms in which this learned man proves successfully the
proposition which he had advanced, namely, 'How useful it must be to
have a great many writers on moral theology- quam utile sit de
theologia morali multos scribere!'"
    "Father," said I, "I shall defer giving you my opinion of that
passage to another opportunity; in the meantime, I shall only say that
as your maxims are so useful, and as it is so important to publish
them, you ought to continue to give me further instruction in them.
For I can assure you that the person to whom I send them shows my
letters to a great many people. Not that we intend to avail
ourselves of them in our own case; but, indeed, we think it will be
useful for the world to be informed about them."
    "Very well," rejoined the monk, "you see I do not conceal them;
and, in continuation, I am ready to furnish you, at our next
interview, with an account of the comforts and indulgences which our
fathers allow, with the view of rendering salvation easy, and devotion
agreeable; so that, in addition to what you have hitherto learned as
to particular conditions of men, you may learn what applies in general
to all classes, and thus you will have gone through a complete
course of instruction." So saying, the monk took his leave of me. I
am, &c.
    P.S. I have always forgot to tell you that there are different
editions of Escobar. Should you think of purchasing him, I would
advise you to choose the Lyons edition, having on the title page the
device of a lamb lying on a book sealed with seven seals; or the
Brussels edition of 1651. Both of these are better and larger than the
previous editions published at Lyons in the years 1644 and 1646.


Paris, July 3, 1656 SIR, I shall use as little ceremony with you as the worthy monk did with me when I saw him last. The moment he perceived me, he came forward, with his eyes fixed on a book which he held in his hand, and accosted me thus: "'Would you not be infinitely obliged to any one who should open to you the gates of paradise? Would you not give millions of gold to have a key by which you might gain admittance whenever you thought proper? You need not be at such expense; here is one- here are a hundred for much less money.'" At first I was at a loss to know whether the good father was reading, or talking to me, but he soon put the matter beyond doubt by adding: "These, sir, are the opening words of a fine book, written by Father Barry of our Society; for I never give you anything of my own." "What book is it?" asked I. "Here is its title," he replied: "Paradise opened to Philagio, in a Hundred Devotions to the Mother of God, easily practised." "Indeed, father! and is each of these easy devotions a sufficient passport to heaven?" "It is," returned he. "Listen to what follows: 'The devotions to the Mother of God, which you will find in this book, are so many celestial keys, which will open wide to you the gates of paradise, provided you practise them'; and, accordingly, he says at the conclusion, 'that he is satisfied if you practise only one of them.'" "Pray, then, father, do teach me one of the easiest of them." "They are all easy," he replied, "for example- 'Saluting the Holy Virgin when you happen to meet her image- saying the little chaplet of the pleasures of the Virgin- fervently pronouncing the name of Mary- commissioning the angels to bow to her for us- wishing to build her as many churches as all the monarchs on earth have done- bidding her good morrow every morning, and good night in the evening- saying the Ave Maria every day, in honour of the heart of Mary'- which last devotion, he says, possesses the additional virtue of securing us the heart of the Virgin." "But, father," said I, "only provided we give her our own in return, I presume?" "That," he replied, "is not absolutely necessary, when a person is too much attached to the world. Hear Father Barry: 'Heart for heart would, no doubt, be highly proper; but yours is rather too much attached to the world, too much bound up in the creature, so that I dare not advise you to offer, at present, that poor little slave which you call your heart.' And so he contents himself with the Ave Maria which he had prescribed." "Why, this is extremely easy work," said I, "and I should really think that nobody will be damned after that." "Alas!" said the monk, "I see you have no idea of the hardness of some people's hearts. There are some, sir, who would never engage to repeat, every day, even these simple words, Good day, Good evening, just because such a practice would require some exertion of memory. And, accordingly, it became necessary for Father Barry to furnish them with expedients still easier, such as wearing a chaplet night and day on the arm, in the form of a bracelet, or carrying about one's person a rosary, or an image of the Virgin. 'And, tell me now,' as Father Barry says, 'if I have not provided you with easy devotions to obtain the good graces of Mary?'" "Extremely easy indeed, father," I observed. "Yes," he said, "it is as much as could possibly be done, and I think should be quite satisfactory. For he must be a wretched creature indeed, who would not spare a single moment in all his lifetime to put a chaplet on his arm, or a rosary in his pocket, and thus secure his salvation; and that, too, with so much certainty that none who have tried the experiment have ever found it to fail, in whatever way they may have lived; though, let me add, we exhort people not to omit holy living. Let me refer you to the example of this, given at p. 34; it is that of a female who, while she practised daily the devotion of saluting the images of the Virgin, spent all her days in mortal sin, and yet was saved after all, by the merit of that single devotion." "And how so?" cried I. "Our Saviour," he replied, "raised her up again, for the very purpose of showing it. So certain it is that none can perish who practise any one of these devotions." "My dear sir," I observed, "I am fully aware that the devotions to the Virgin are a powerful means of salvation, and that the least of them, if flowing from the exercise of faith and charity, as in the case of the saints who have practised them, are of great merit; but to make persons believe that, by practising these without reforming their wicked lives, they will be converted by them at the hour of death, or that God will raise them up again, does appear calculated rather to keep sinners going on in their evil courses, by deluding them with false peace and foolhardy confidence, than to draw them off from sin by that genuine conversion which grace alone can effect." "What does it matter," replied the monk, "by what road we enter paradise, provided we do enter it? as our famous Father Binet, formerly our Provincial, remarks on a similar subject, in his excellent book, On the Mark of Predestination. 'Be it by hook or by crook,' as he says, 'what need we care, if we reach at last the celestial city.'" "Granted," said I; "but the great question is if we will get there at all." "The Virgin will be answerable for that," returned he; "so says Father Barry in the concluding lines of his book: 'If at the hour of death, the enemy should happen to put in some claim upon you, and occasion disturbance in the little commonwealth of your thoughts, you have only to say that Mary will answer for you, and that he must make his application to her.'" "But, father, it might be possible to puzzle you, were one disposed to push the question a little further. Who, for example, has assured us that the Virgin will be answerable in this case?" "Father Barry will be answerable for her," he replied. "'As for the profit and happiness to be derived from these devotions,' he says, 'I will be answerable for that; I will stand bail for the good Mother.'" "But, father, who is to be answerable for Father Barry?" "How!" cried the monk; "for Father Barry? is he not a member of our Society; and do you need to be told that our Society is answerable for all the books of its members? It is highly necessary and important for you to know about this. There is an order in our Society, by which all booksellers are prohibited from printing any work of our fathers without the approbation of our divines and the permission of our superiors. This regulation was passed by Henry III, 10th May 1583, and confirmed by Henry IV, 20th December 1603, and by Louis XIII, 14th February 1612; so that the whole of our body stands responsible for the publications of each of the brethren. This is a feature quite peculiar to our community. And, in consequence of this, not a single work emanates from us which does not breathe the spirit of the Society. That, sir, is a piece of information quite apropos." "My good father," said I, "you oblige me very much, and I only regret that I did not know this sooner, as it will induce me to pay considerably more attention to your authors." "I would have told you sooner," he replied, "had an opportunity offered; I hope, however, you will profit by the information in future, and, in the meantime, let us prosecute our subject. The methods of securing salvation which I have mentioned are, in my opinion, very easy, very sure, and sufficiently numerous; but it was the anxious wish of our doctors that people should not stop short at this first step, where they only do what is absolutely necessary for salvation and nothing more. Aspiring, as they do without ceasing, after the greater glory of God, they sought to elevate men to a higher pitch of piety; and, as men of the world are generally deterred from devotion by the strange ideas they have been led to form of it by some people, we have deemed it of the highest importance to remove this obstacle which meets us at the threshold. In this department Father Le Moine has acquired much fame, by his work entitled Devotion Made Easy, composed for this very purpose. The picture which he draws of devotion in this work is perfectly charming. None ever understood the subject before him. Only hear what he says in the beginning of his work: 'Virtue has never as yet been seen aright; no portrait of her hitherto produced, has borne the least verisimilitude. It is by no means surprising that so few have attempted to scale her rocky eminence. She has been held up as a cross-tempered dame, whose only delight is in solitude; she has been associated with toil and sorrow; and, in short, represented as the foe of sports and diversions, which are, in fact, the flowers of joy and the seasoning of life.'" "But, father, I am sure, I have heard, at least, that there have been great saints who led extremely austere lives." "No doubt of that," he replied; "but still, to use the language of the doctor, 'there have always been a number of genteel saints, and well-bred devotees'; and this difference in their manners, mark you, arises entirely from a difference of humours. 'I am far from denying,' says my author, 'that there are devout persons to be met with, pale and melancholy in their temperament, fond of silence and retirement, with phlegm instead of blood in their veins, and with faces of clay; but there are many others of a happier complexion, and who possess that sweet and warm humour, that genial and rectified blood, which is the true stuff that joy is made of.' "You see," resumed the monk, "that the love of silence and retirement is not common to all devout people; and that, as I was saying, this is the effect rather of their complexion than their piety. Those austere manners to which you refer are, in fact, properly the character of a savage and barbarian, and, accordingly, you will find them ranked by Father Le Moine among the ridiculous and brutal manners of a moping idiot. The following is the description he has drawn of one of these in the seventh book of his Moral Pictures. 'He has no eyes for the beauties of art or nature. Were he to indulge in anything that gave him pleasure, he would consider himself oppressed with a grievous load. On festival days, he retires to hold fellowship with the dead. He delights in a grotto rather than a palace, and prefers the stump of a tree to a throne. As to injuries and affronts, he is as insensible to them as if he had the eyes and ears of a statue. Honour and glory are idols with whom he has no acquaintance, and to whom he has no incense to offer. To him a beautiful woman is no better than a spectre; and those imperial and commanding looks- those charming tyrants who hold so many slaves in willing and chainless servitude- have no more influence over his optics than the sun over those of owls,' &c." "Reverend sir," said I, "had you not told me that Father Le Moine was the author of that description, I declare I would have guessed it to be the production of some profane fellow who had drawn it expressly with the view of turning the saints into ridicule. For if that is not the picture of a man entirely denied to those feelings which the Gospel obliges us to renounce, I confess that I know nothing of the matter." "You may now perceive, then, the extent of your ignorance," he replied; "for these are the features of a feeble, uncultivated mind, 'destitute of those virtuous and natural affections which it ought to possess,' as Father Le Moine says at the close of that description. Such is his way of teaching 'Christian virtue and philosophy,' as he announces in his advertisement; and, in truth, it cannot be denied that this method of treating devotion is much more agreeable to the taste of the world than the old way in which they went to work before our times." "There can be no comparison between them," was my reply, "and I now begin to hope that you will be as good as your word." "You will see that better by-and-by," returned the monk. "Hitherto I have only spoken of piety in general, but, just to show you more in detail how our fathers have disencumbered it of its toils and troubles, would it not be most consoling to the ambitious to learn that they may maintain genuine devotion along with an inordinate love of greatness?" "What, father! even though they should run to the utmost excess of ambition?" "Yes," he replied; "for this would be only a venial sin, unless they sought after greatness in order to offend God and injure the State more effectually. Now venial sins do not preclude a man from being devout, as the greatest saints are not exempt from them. 'Ambition,' says Escobar, 'which consists in an inordinate appetite for place and power, is of itself a venial sin; but when such dignities are coveted for the purpose of hurting the commonwealth, or having more opportunity to offend God, these adventitious circumstances render it mortal.'" "Very savoury doctrine, indeed, father." "And is it not still more savoury," continued the monk, "for misers to be told, by the same authority, 'that the rich are not guilty of mortal sin by refusing to give alms out of their superfluity to the poor in the hour of their greatest need?- scio in gravi pauperum necessitate divites non dando superflua, non peccare mortaliter.'" "Why truly," said I, "if that be the case, I give up all pretension to skill in the science of sins." "To make you still more sensible of this," returned he, "you have been accustomed to think, I suppose, that a good opinion of one's self, and a complacency in one's own works, is a most dangerous sin? Now, will you not be surprised if I can show you that such a good opinion, even though there should be no foundation for it, is so far from being a sin that it is, on the contrary, the gift of God?" "Is it possible, father?" "That it is," said the monk; "and our good Father Garasse shows it in his French work, entitled Summary of the Capital Truths of Religion: 'It is a result of commutative justice that all honest labour should find its recompense either in praise or in self-satisfaction. When men of good talents publish some excellent work, they are justly remunerated by public applause. But when a man of weak parts has wrought hard at some worthless production, and fails to obtain the praise of the public, in order that his labour may not go without its reward, God imparts to him a personal satisfaction, which it would be worse than barbarous injustice to envy him. It is thus that God, who is infinitely just, has given even to frogs a certain complacency in their own croaking.'" "Very fine decisions in favour of vanity, ambition, and avarice!" cried I; "and envy, father, will it be more difficult to find an excuse for it?" "That is a delicate point," he replied. "We require to make use here of Father Bauny's distinction, which he lays down in his Summary of Sins.- 'Envy of the spiritual good of our neighbour is mortal but envy of his temporal good is only venial.'" "And why so, father?" "You shall hear, said he. "'For the good that consists in temporal things is so slender, and so insignificant in relation to heaven, that it is of no consideration in the eyes of God and His saints.'" "But, father, if temporal good is so slender, and of so little consideration, how do you come to permit men's lives to be taken away in order to preserve it?" "You mistake the matter entirely," returned the monk; "you were told that temporal good was of no consideration in the eyes of God, but not in the eyes of men." "That idea never occurred to me," I replied; "and now, it is to be hoped that, in virtue of these same distinctions, the world will get rid of mortal sins altogether." "Do not flatter yourself with that," said the father; "there are still such things as mortal sins- there is sloth, for example." "Nay, then, father dear!" I exclaimed, "after that, farewell to all 'the joys of life!'" "Stay," said the monk, "when you have heard Escobar's definition of that vice, you will perhaps change your tone: 'Sloth,' he observes, 'lies in grieving that spiritual things are spiritual, as if one should lament that the sacraments are the sources of grace; which would be a mortal sin.'" "O my dear sir!" cried I, "I don't think that anybody ever took it into his head to be slothful in that way." "And accordingly," he replied, "Escobar afterwards remarks: 'I must confess that it is very rarely that a person falls into the sin of sloth.' You see now how important it is to define things properly?" "Yes, father, and this brings to my mind your other definitions about assassinations, ambuscades, and superfluities. But why have you not extended your method to all cases, and given definitions of all vices in your way, so that people may no longer sin in gratifying themselves?" "It is not always essential," he replied, "to accomplish that purpose by changing the definitions of things. I may illustrate this by referring to the subject of good cheer, which is accounted one of the greatest pleasures of life, and which Escobar thus sanctions in his Practice according to our Society: 'Is it allowable for a person to eat and drink to repletion, unnecessarily, and solely for pleasure? Certainly he may, according to Sanchez, provided he does not thereby injure his health; because the natural appetite may be permitted to enjoy its proper functions.'" "Well, father, that is certainly the most complete passage, and the most finished maxim in the whole of your moral system! What comfortable inferences may be drawn from it! Why, and is gluttony, then, not even a venial sin?" "Not in the shape I have just referred to," he replied; "but, according to the same author, it would be a venial sin 'were a person to gorge himself, unnecessarily, with eating and drinking, to such a degree as to produce vomiting.' So much for that point. I would now say a little about the facilities we have invented for avoiding sin in worldly conversations and intrigues. One of the most embarrassing of these cases is how to avoid telling lies, particularly when one is anxious to induce a belief in what is false. In such cases, our doctrine of equivocations has been found of admirable service, according to which, as Sanchez has it, 'it is permitted to use ambiguous terms, leading people to understand them in another sense from that in which we understand them ourselves.'" "I know that already, father," said I. "We have published it so often," continued he, "that at length, it seems, everybody knows of it. But do you know what is to be done when no equivocal words can be got?" "No, father." "I thought as much, said the Jesuit; "this is something new, sir: I mean the doctrine of mental reservations. 'A man may swear,' as Sanchez says in the same place, 'that he never did such a thing (though he actually did it), meaning within himself that he did not do so on a certain day, or before he was born, or understanding any other such circumstance, while the words which he employs have no such sense as would discover his meaning. And this is very convenient in many cases, and quite innocent, when necessary or conducive to one's health, honour, or advantage.'" "Indeed, father! is that not a lie, and perjury to boot?" "No," said the father; "Sanchez and Filiutius prove that it is not; for, says the latter, 'it is the intention that determines the quality of the action.' And he suggests a still surer method for avoiding falsehood, which is this: After saying aloud, 'I swear that I have not done that,' to add, in a low voice, 'to-day'; or after saying aloud, 'I swear,' to interpose in a whisper, 'that I say,' and then continue aloud, 'that I have done that.' This, you perceive, is telling the truth." "I grant it," said I; "it might possibly, however, be found to be telling the truth in a low key, and falsehood in a loud one; besides, I should be afraid that many people might not have sufficient presence of mind to avail themselves of these methods." "Our doctors," replied the Jesuit, "have taught, in the same passage, for the benefit of such as might not be expert in the use of these reservations, that no more is required of them, to avoid lying, than simply to say that 'they have not done' what they have done, provided 'they have, in general, the intention of giving to their language the sense which an able man would give to it.' Be candid, now, and confess if you have not often felt yourself embarrassed, in consequence of not knowing this?" "Sometimes," said I. "And will you not also acknowledge," continued he, "that it would often prove very convenient to be absolved in conscience from keeping certain engagements one may have made?" "The most convenient thing in the world!" I replied. "Listen, then, to the general rule laid down by Escobar: 'Promises are not binding, when the person in making them had no intention to bind himself. Now, it seldom happens that any have such an intention, unless when they confirm their promises by an oath or contract; so that when one simply says, "I will do it," he means that he will do it if he does not change his mind; for he does not wish, by saying that, to deprive himself of his liberty.' He gives other rules in the same strain, which you may consult for yourself, and tells us, in conclusion, 'that all this is taken from Molina and our other authors, and is therefore settled beyond all doubt.'" "My dear father," I observed, "I had no idea that the direction of the intention possessed the power of rendering promises null and void." "You must perceive," returned he, "what facility this affords for prosecuting the business of life. But what has given us the most trouble has been to regulate the commerce between the sexes; our fathers being more chary in the matter of chastity. Not but that they have discussed questions of a very curious and very indulgent character, particularly in reference to married and betrothed persons." At this stage of the conversation I was made acquainted with the most extraordinary questions you can well imagine. He gave me enough of them to fill many letters; but, as you show my communications to all sorts of persons, and as I do not choose to be the vehicle of such reading to those who would make it the subject of diversion, I must decline even giving the quotations. The only thing to which I can venture to allude, out of all the books which he showed me, and these in French, too, is a passage which you will find in Father Bauny's Summary, p. 165, relating to certain little familiarities, which, provided the intention is well directed, he explains "as passing for gallant"; and you will be surprised to find, on p. 148 a principle of morals, as to the power which daughters have to dispose of their persons without the leave of their relatives, couched in these terms: "When that is done with the consent of the daughter, although the father may have reason to complain, it does not follow that she, or the person to whom she has sacrificed her honour, has done him any wrong, or violated the rules of justice in regard to him; for the daughter has possession of her honour, as well as of her body, and can do what she pleases with them, bating death or mutilation of her members." Judge, from that specimen, of the rest. It brings to my recollection a passage from a heathen poet, a much better casuist, it would appear, than these reverend doctors; for he says, "that the person of a daughter does not belong wholly to herself, but partly to her father and partly to her mother, without whom she cannot dispose of it, even in marriage." And I am much mistaken if there is a single judge in the land who would not lay down as law the very reverse of this maxim of Father Bauny. This is all I dare tell you of this part of our conversation, which lasted so long that I was obliged to beseech the monk to change the subject. He did so and proceeded to entertain me with their regulations about female attire. "We shall not speak," he said, "of those who are actuated by impure intentions; but, as to others, Escobar remarks that 'if the woman adorn herself without any evil intention, but merely to gratify a natural inclination to vanity- ob naturalem fastus inclinationem- this is only a venial sin, or rather no sin at all.' And Father Bauny maintains, that 'even though the woman knows the bad effect which her care in adorning her person may have upon the virtue of those who may behold her, all decked out in rich and precious attire, she would not sin in so dressing.' And, among others, he cites our Father Sanchez as being of the same mind." "But, father, what do your authors say to those passages of Scripture which so strongly denounce everything of that sort?" "Lessius has well met that objection," said the monk, "by observing, 'that these passages of Scripture have the force of precepts only in regard to the women of that period, who were expected to exhibit, by their modest demeanour, an example of edification to the Pagans.'" "And where did he find that, father"? "It does not matter where he found it," replied he; "it is enough to know that the sentiments of these great men are always probable of themselves. It deserves to be noticed, however, that Father Le Moine has qualified this general permission; for he will on no account allow it to be extended to the old ladies. 'Youth,' he observes, 'is naturally entitled to adorn itself, nor can the use of ornament be condemned at an age which is the flower and verdure of life. But there it should be allowed to remain: it would be strangely out of season to seek for roses on the snow. The stars alone have a right to be always dancing, for they have the gift of perpetual youth. The wisest course in this matter, therefore, for old women, would be to consult good sense and a good mirror, to yield to decency and necessity, and to retire at the first approach of the shades of night.'" "A most judicious advice," I observed. "But," continued the monk, "just to show you how careful our fathers are about everything you can think of, I may mention that, after granting the ladies permission to gamble, and foreseeing that, in many cases, this license would be of little avail unless they had something to gamble with, they have established another maxim in their favour, which will be found in Escobar's chapter on larceny, no. 13: 'A wife,' says he, 'may gamble, and for this purpose may pilfer money from her husband.'" "Well, father, that is capital! "There are many other good things besides that," said the father; "but we must waive them and say a little about those more important maxims, which facilitate the practice of holy things- the manner of attending mass, for example. On this subject, our great divines, Gaspard Hurtado and Coninck, have taught 'that it is quite sufficient to be present at mass in body, though we may be absent in spirit, provided we maintain an outwardly respectful deportment.' Vasquez goes a step further, maintaining 'that one fulfils the precept of hearing mass, even though one should go with no such intention at all.' All this is repeatedly laid down by Escobar, who, in one passage, illustrates the point by the example of those who are dragged to mass by force, and who put on a fixed resolution not to listen to it." "Truly, sir," said I, "had any other person told me that, I would not have believed it." "In good sooth," he replied, "it requires all the support which the authority of these great names can lend it; and so does the following maxim by the same Escobar, 'that even a wicked intention, such as that of ogling the women, joined to that of hearing mass rightly, does not hinder a man from fulfilling the service.' But another very convenient device, suggested by our learned brother Turrian, is that 'one may hear the half of a mass from one priest, and the other half from another; and that it makes no difference though he should hear first the conclusion of the one, and then the commencement of the other.' I might also mention that it has been decided by several of our doctors to be lawful 'to hear the two halves of a mass at the same time, from the lips of two different priests, one of whom is commencing the mass, while the other is at the elevation; it being quite possible to attend to both parties at once, and two halves of a mass making a whole- duae medietates unam missam constituunt.' 'From all which,' says Escobar, 'I conclude, that you may hear mass in a very short period of time; if, for example, you should happen to hear four masses going on at the same time, so arranged that when the first is at the commencement, the second is at the gospel, the third at the consecration, and the last at the communion.'" "Certainly, father, according to that plan, one may hear mass any day at Notre Dame in a twinkling." "Well," replied he, "that just shows how admirably we have succeeded in facilitating the hearing of mass. But I am anxious now to show you how we have softened the use of the sacraments, and particularly that of penance. It is here that the benignity of our fathers shines in its truest splendour; and you will be really astonished to find that devotion, a thing which the world is so much afraid of, should have been treated by our doctors with such consummate skill that, to use the words of Father Le Moine, in his Devotion Made Easy, demolishing the bugbear which the devil had placed at its threshold, they have rendered it easier than vice and more agreeable than pleasure; so that, in fact, simply to live is incomparably more irksome than to live well. Is that not a marvellous change, now?" "Indeed, father, I cannot help telling you a bit of my mind: I am sadly afraid that you have overshot the mark, and that this indulgence of yours will shock more people than it will attract. The mass, for example, is a thing so grand and so holy that, in the eyes of a great many, it would be enough to blast the credit of your doctors forever to show them how you have spoken of it." "With a certain class," replied the monk, "I allow that may be the case; but do you not know that we accommodate ourselves to all sorts of persons? You seem to have lost all recollection of what I have repeatedly told you on this point. The first time you are at leisure, therefore, I propose that we make this the theme of our conversation, deferring till then the lenitives we have introduced into the confessional. I promise to make you understand it so well that you will never forget it." With these words we parted, so that our next conversation, I presume, will turn on the policy of the Society. I am, &c. P.S. Since writing the above, I have seen Paradise Opened by a Hundred Devotions Easily Practised, by Father Barry; and also the Mark of Predestination, by Father Binet; both of them pieces well worth the seeing.


Paris, August 2, 1656 SIR, I have not come yet to the policy of the Society, but shall first introduce you to one of its leading principles. I refer to the palliatives which they have applied to confession, and which are unquestionably the best of all the schemes they have fallen upon to "attract all and repel none." It is absolutely necessary to know something of this before going any further; and, accordingly, the monk judged it expedient to give me some instructions on the point, nearly as follows: "From what I have already stated," he observed, "you may judge of the success with which our doctors have laboured to discover, in their wisdom, that a great many things, formerly regarded as forbidden, are innocent and allowable; but as there are some sins for which one can find no excuse, and for which there is no remedy but confession, it became necessary to alleviate, by the methods I am now going to mention, the difficulties attending that practice. Thus, having shown you, in our previous conversations, how we relieve people from troublesome scruples of conscience by showing them that what they believed to be sinful was indeed quite innocent, I proceed now to illustrate our convenient plan for expiating what is really sinful, which is effected by making confession as easy a process as it was formerly a painful one." "And how do you manage that, father?" "Why," said he, "it is by those admirable subtleties which are peculiar to our Company, and have been styled by our fathers in Flanders, in The Image of the First Century, 'the pious finesse, the holy artifice of devotion- piam et religiosam calliditatem, et pietatis solertiam.' By the aid of these inventions, as they remark in the same place, 'crimes may be expiated nowadays alacrius- with more zeal and alacrity than they were committed in former days, and a great many people may be washed from their stains almost as cleverly as they contracted them- plurimi vix citius maculas contrahunt quam eluunt.'" "Pray, then, father, do teach me some of these most salutary lessons of finesse." "We have a good number of them, answered the monk; "for there are a great many irksome things about confession, and for each of these we have devised a palliative. The chief difficulties connected with this ordinance are the shame of confessing certain sins, the trouble of specifying the circumstances of others, the penance exacted for them, the resolution against relapsing into them, the avoidance of the proximate occasions of sins, and the regret for having committed them. I hope to convince you to-day that it is now possible to get over all this with hardly any trouble at all; such is the care we have taken to allay the bitterness and nauseousness of this very necessary medicine. For, to begin with the difficulty of confessing certain sins, you are aware it is of importance often to keep in the good graces of one's confessor; now, must it not be extremely convenient to be permitted, as you are by our doctors, particularly Escobar and Suarez, 'to have two confessors, one for the mortal sins and another for the venial, in order to maintain a fair character with your ordinary confessor- uti bonam famam apud ordinarium tueatur- provided you do not take occasion from thence to indulge in mortal sin?' This is followed by another ingenious contrivance for confessing a sin, even to the ordinary confessor, without his perceiving that it was committed since the last confession, which is, 'to make a general confession, and huddle this last sin in a lump among the rest which we confess.' And I am sure you will own that the following decision of Father Bauny goes far to alleviate the shame which one must feel in confessing his relapses, namely, 'that, except in certain cases, which rarely occur, the confessor is not entitled to ask his penitent if the sin of which he accuses himself is an habitual one, nor is the latter obliged to answer such a question; because the confessor has no right to subject his penitent to the shame of disclosing his frequent relapses.'" "Indeed, father! I might as well say that a physician has no right to ask his patient if it is long since he had the fever. Do not sins assume quite a different aspect according to circumstances? and should it not be the object of a genuine penitent to discover the whole state of his conscience to his confessor, with the same sincerity and open-heartedness as if he were speaking to Jesus Christ himself, whose place the priest occupies? If so, how far is he from realizing such a disposition who, by concealing the frequency of his relapses, conceals the aggravations of his offence!" I saw that this puzzled the worthy monk, for he attempted to elude rather than resolve the difficulty by turning my attention to another of their rules, which only goes to establish a fresh abuse, instead of justifying in the least the decision of Father Bauny; a decision which, in my opinion, is one of the most pernicious of their maxims, and calculated to encourage profligate men to continue in their evil habits. "I grant you," replied the father, "that habit aggravates the malignity of a sin, but it does not alter its nature; and that is the reason why we do not insist on people confessing it, according to the rule laid down by our fathers, and quoted by Escobar, 'that one is only obliged to confess the circumstances that alter the species of the sin, and not those that aggravate it.' Proceeding on this rule, Father Granados says, 'that if one has eaten flesh in Lent, all he needs to do is to confess that he has broken the fast, without specifying whether it was by eating flesh, or by taking two fish meals.' And, according to Reginald, 'a sorcerer who has employed the diabolical art is not obliged to reveal that circumstance; it is enough to say that he has dealt in magic, without expressing whether it was by palmistry or by a paction with the devil.' Fagundez, again, has decided that 'rape is not a circumstance which one is bound to reveal, if the woman give her consent.' All this is quoted by Escobar, with many other very curious decisions as to these circumstances, which you may consult at your leisure." "These 'artifices of devotion' are vastly convenient in their way," I observed. "And yet," said the father, "notwithstanding all that, they would go for nothing, sir, unless we had proceeded to mollify penance, which, more than anything else, deters people from confession. Now, however, the most squeamish have nothing to dread from it, after what we have advanced in our theses of the College of Clermont, where we hold that, if the confessor imposes a suitable penance, and the penitent be unwilling to submit himself to it, the latter may go home, 'waiving both the penance and the absolution.' Or, as Escobar says, in giving the Practice of our Society, 'if the penitent declare his willingness to have his penance remitted to the next world, and to suffer in purgatory all the pains due to him, the confessor may, for the honour of the sacrament, impose a very light penance on him, particularly if he has reason to believe that this penitent would object to a heavier one.'" "I really think," said I, "that, if that is the case, we ought no longer to call confession the sacrament of penance." "You are wrong," he replied; "for we always administer something in the way of penance, for the form's sake." "But, father, do you suppose that a man is worthy of receiving absolution when he will submit to nothing painful to expiate his offences? And, in these circumstances, ought you not to retain rather than remit their sins? Are you not aware of the extent of your ministry, and that you have the power of binding and loosing? Do you imagine that you are at liberty to give absolution indifferently to all who ask it, and without ascertaining beforehand if Jesus Christ looses in heaven those whom you loose on earth?" "What!" cried the father, "do you suppose that we do not know that 'the confessor (as one remarks) ought to sit in judgement on the disposition of his penitent, both because he is bound not to dispense the sacraments to the unworthy, Jesus Christ having enjoined him to be a faithful steward and not give that which is holy unto dogs; and because he is a judge, and it is the duty of a judge to give righteous judgement, by loosing the worthy and binding the unworthy, and he ought not to absolve those whom Jesus Christ condemns.' "Whose words are these, father?" "They are the words of our father Filiutius," he replied. "You astonish me," said I; "I took them to be a quotation from one of the fathers of the Church. At all events, sir, that passage ought to make an impression on the confessors, and render them very circumspect in the dispensation of this sacrament, to ascertain whether the regret of their penitents is sufficient, and whether their promises of future amendment are worthy of credit." "That is not such a difficult matter," replied the father; "Filiutius had more sense than to leave confessors in that dilemma, and accordingly he suggests an easy way of getting out of it, in the words immediately following: 'The confessor may easily set his mind at rest as to the disposition of his penitent; for, if he fail to give sufficient evidence of sorrow, the confessor has only to ask him if he does not detest the sin in his heart, and, if he answers that he does, he is bound to believe it. The same thing may be said of resolutions as to the future, unless the case involves an obligation to restitution, or to avoid some proximate occasion of sin.'" "As to that passage, father, I can easily believe that it is Filiutius' own." "You are mistaken though," said the father, "for he has extracted it, word for word, from Suarez." "But, father, that last passage from Filiutius overturns what he had laid down in the former. For confessors can no longer be said to sit as judges on the disposition of their penitents, if they are bound to take it simply upon their word, in the absence of all satisfying signs of contrition. Are the professions made on such occasions so infallible, that no other sign is needed? I question much if experience has taught your fathers that all who make fair promises are remarkable for keeping them; I am mistaken if they have not often found the reverse." "No matter," replied the monk; "confessors are bound to believe them for all that; for Father Bauny, who has probed this question to the bottom, has concluded 'that at whatever time those who have fallen into frequent relapses, without giving evidence of amendment, present themselves before a confessor, expressing their regret for the past, and a good purpose for the future, he is bound to believe them on their simple averment, although there may be reason to presume that such resolution only came from the teeth outwards. Nay,' says he, 'though they should indulge subsequently to greater excess than ever in the same delinquencies, still, in my opinion, they may receive absolution.' There now! that, I am sure, should silence you." "But, father," said I, "you impose a great hardship, I think, on the confessors, by thus obliging them to believe the very reverse of what they see." "You don't understand it," returned he; "all that is meant is that they are obliged to act and absolve as if they believed that their penitents would be true to their engagements, though, in point of fact, they believe no such thing. This is explained, immediately afterwards, by Suarez and Filiutius. After having said that 'the priest is bound to believe the penitent on his word,' they add: 'It is not necessary that the confessor should be convinced that the good resolution of his penitent will be carried into effect, nor even that he should judge it probable; it is enough that he thinks the person has at the time the design in general, though he may very shortly after relapse. Such is the doctrine of all our authors- ita docent omnes autores.' Will you presume to doubt what has been taught by our authors?" "But, sir, what then becomes of what Father Petau himself is obliged to own, in the preface to his Public Penance, 'that the holy fathers, doctors, and councils of the Church agree in holding it as a settled point that the penance preparatory to the eucharist must be genuine, constant, resolute, and not languid and sluggish, or subject to after-thoughts and relapses?'" "Don't you observe," replied the monk, "that Father Petau is speaking of the ancient Church? But all that is now so little in season, to use a common saying of our doctors, that, according to Father Bauny, the reverse is the only true view of the matter. 'There are some,' says he, 'who maintain that absolution ought to be refused to those who fall frequently into the same sin, more especially if, after being often absolved, they evince no signs of amendment; and others hold the opposite view. But the only true opinion is that they ought not to be refused absolution; and, though they should be nothing the better of all the advice given them, though they should have broken all their promises to lead new lives, and been at no trouble to purify themselves, still it is of no consequence; whatever may be said to the contrary, the true opinion which ought to be followed is that even in all these cases, they ought to be absolved.' And again: 'Absolution ought neither to be denied nor delayed in the case of those who live in habitual sins against the law of God, of nature, and of the Church, although there should be no apparent prospect of future amendment- etsi emendationis futurae nulla spes appareat.'" "But, father, this certainty of always getting absolution may induce sinners- " "I know what you mean," interrupted the Jesuit; "but listen to Father Bauny, Q. 15: 'Absolution may be given even to him who candidly avows that the hope of being absolved induced him to sin with more freedom than he would otherwise have done.' And Father Caussin, defending this proposition, says 'that, were this not true, confession would be interdicted to the greater part of mankind; and the only resource left poor sinners would be a branch and a rope.'" "O father, how these maxims of yours will draw people to your confessionals!" "Yes, he replied, "you would hardly believe what numbers are in the habit of frequenting them; 'we are absolutely oppressed and overwhelmed, so to speak, under the crowd of our penitents- penitentium numero obruimur'- as is said in The Image of the First Century." "I could suggest a very simple method," said I, "to escape from this inconvenient pressure. You have only to oblige sinners to avoid the proximate occasions of sin; that single expedient would afford you relief at once." "We have no wish for such a relief," rejoined the monk; "quite the reverse; for, as is observed in the same book, 'the great end of our Society is to labor to establish the virtues, to wage war on the vices, and to save a great number of souls.' Now, as there are very few souls inclined to quit the proximate occasions of sin, we have been obliged to define what a proximate occasion is. 'That cannot be called a proximate occasion,' says Escobar, 'where one sins but rarely, or on a sudden transport- say three or four times a year'; or, as Father Bauny has it, once or twice in a month.' Again, asks this author, 'what is to be done in the case of masters and servants, or cousins, who, living under the same roof, are by this occasion tempted to sin?'" "They ought to be separated," said I. "That is what he says, too, 'if their relapses be very frequent: but if the parties offend rarely, and cannot be separated without trouble and loss, they may, according to Suarez and other authors, be absolved, provided they promise to sin no more, and are truly sorry for what is past.'" This required no explanation, for he had already informed me with what sort of evidence of contrition the confessor was bound to rest satisfied. "And Father Bauny," continued the monk, "permits those who are involved in the proximate occasions of sin, 'to remain as they are, when they cannot avoid them without becoming the common talk of the world, or subjecting themselves to inconvenience.' 'A priest,' he remarks in another work, 'may and ought to absolve a woman who is guilty of living with a paramour, if she cannot put him away honourably, or has some reason for keeping him- si non potest honeste ejicere, aut habeat aliquam causam retinendi- provided she promises to act more virtuously for the future.'" "Well, father," cried I, "you have certainly succeeded in relaxing the obligation of avoiding the occasions of sin to a very comfortable extent, by dispensing with the duty as soon as it becomes inconvenient; but I should think your fathers will at least allow it be binding when there is no difficulty in the way of its performance?" "Yes," said the father, "though even then the rule is not without exceptions. For Father Bauny says, in the same place, 'that any one may frequent profligate houses, with the view of converting their unfortunate inmates, though the probability should be that he fall into sin, having often experienced before that he has yielded to their fascinations. Some doctors do not approve of this opinion, and hold that no man may voluntarily put his salvation in peril to succour his neighbor; yet I decidedly embrace the opinion which they controvert.'" "A novel sort of preachers these, father! But where does Father Bauny find any ground for investing them with such a mission?" "It is upon one of his own principles," he replied, "which he announces in the same place after Basil Ponce. I mentioned it to you before, and I presume you have not forgotten it. It is, 'that one may seek an occasion of sin, directly and expressly- primo et per se- to promote the temporal or spiritual good of himself or his neighbour.'" On hearing these passages, I felt so horrified that I was on the point of breaking out; but, being resolved to hear him to an end, I restrained myself, and merely inquired: "How, father, does this doctrine comport with that of the Gospel, which binds us to 'pluck out the right eye,' and 'cut off the right hand,' when they 'offend,' or prove prejudicial to salvation? And how can you suppose that the man who wilfully indulges in the occasions of sins, sincerely hates sin? Is it not evident, on the contrary, that he has never been properly touched with a sense of it, and that he has not yet experienced that genuine conversion of heart, which makes a man love God as much as he formerly loved the creature?" "Indeed!" cried he, "do you call that genuine contrition? It seems you do not know that, as Father Pintereau says, 'all our fathers teach, with one accord, that it is an error, and almost a heresy, to hold that contrition is necessary; or that attrition alone, induced by the sole motive, the fear of the pains of hell, which excludes a disposition to offend, is not sufficient with the sacrament?'" "What, father! do you mean to say that it is almost an article of faith that attrition, induced merely by fear of punishment, is sufficient with the sacrament? That idea, I think, is peculiar to your fathers; for those other doctors who hold that attrition is sufficient along with the sacrament, always take care to show that it must be accompanied with some love to God at least. It appears to me, moreover, that even your own authors did not always consider this doctrine of yours so certain. Your Father Suarez, for instance, speaks of it thus: 'Although it is a probable opinion that attrition is sufficient with the sacrament, yet it is not certain, and it may be false- non est certa, et potest esse falsa. And, if it is false, attrition is not sufficient to save a man; and he that dies knowingly in this state, wilfully exposes himself to the grave peril of eternal damnation. For this opinion is neither very ancient nor very common- nec valde antiqua, nec multum communis.' Sanchez was not more prepared to hold it as infallible when he said in his Summary that 'the sick man and his confessor, who content themselves at the hour of death with attrition and the sacrament, are both chargeable with mortal sin, on account of the great risk of damnation to which the penitent would be exposed, if the opinion that attrition is sufficient with the sacrament should not turn out to be true. Comitolus, too, says that 'we should not be too sure that attrition suffices with the sacrament.'" Here the worthy father interrupted me. "What!" he cried, "you read our authors then, it seems? That is all very well; but it would be still better were you never to read them without the precaution of having one of us beside you. Do you not see, now, that, from having read them alone, you have concluded, in your simplicity, that these passages bear hard on those who have more lately supported our doctrine of attrition? Whereas it might be shown that nothing could set them off to greater advantage. Only think what a triumph it is for our fathers of the present day to have succeeded in disseminating their opinion in such short time, and to such an extent that, with the exception of theologians, nobody almost would ever suppose but that our modern views on this subject had been the uniform belief of the faithful in all ages! So that, in fact, when you have shown, from our fathers themselves, that, a few years ago, 'this opinion was not certain,' you have only succeeded in giving our modern authors the whole merit of its establishment! "Accordingly," he continued, "our cordial friend Diana, to gratify us, no doubt, has recounted the various steps by which the opinion reached its present position. 'In former days, the ancient schoolmen maintained that contrition was necessary as soon as one had committed a mortal sin; since then, however, it has been thought that it is not binding except on festival days; afterwards, only when some great calamity threatened the people; others, again, that it ought not to be long delayed at the approach of death. But our fathers, Hurtado and Vasquez, have ably refuted all these opinions and established that one is not bound to contrition unless he cannot be absolved in any other way, or at the point of death!' But, to continue the wonderful progress of this doctrine, I might add, what our fathers, Fagundez, Granados, and Escobar, have decided, 'that contrition is not necessary even at death; because,' say they, 'if attrition with the sacrament did not suffice at death, it would follow that attrition would not be sufficient with the sacrament. And the learned Hurtado, cited by Diana and Escobar, goes still further; for he asks: 'Is that sorrow for sin which flows solely from apprehension of its temporal consequences, such as having lost health or money, sufficient? We must distinguish. If the evil is not regarded as sent by the hand of God, such a sorrow does not suffice; but if the evil is viewed as sent by God, as, in fact, all evil, says Diana, except sin, comes from him, that kind of sorrow is sufficient.' Our Father Lamy holds the same doctrine." "You surprise me, father; for I see nothing in all that attrition of which you speak but what is natural; and in this way a sinner may render himself worthy of absolution without supernatural grace at all. Now everybody knows that this is a heresy condemned by the Council." "I should have thought with you," he replied; "and yet it seems this must not be the case, for the fathers of our College of Clermont have maintained (in their Theses of the 23rd May and 6th June 1644) 'that attrition may be holy and sufficient for the sacrament, although it may not be supernatural'; and (in that of August 1643) 'that attrition, though merely natural, is sufficient for the sacrament, provided it is honest.' I do not see what more could be said on the subject, unless we choose to subjoin an inference, which may be easily drawn from these principles, namely, that contrition, so far from being necessary to the sacrament, is rather prejudicial to it, inasmuch as, by washing away sins of itself, it would leave nothing for the sacrament to do at all. That is, indeed, exactly what the celebrated Jesuit Father Valencia remarks. (Book iv, disp.7, q.8, p.4.) 'Contrition,' says he, 'is by no means necessary in order to obtain the principal benefit of the sacrament; on the contrary, it is rather an obstacle in the way of it- imo obstat potius quominus effectus sequatur.' Nobody could well desire more to be said in commendation of attrition." "I believe that, father, said I; "but you must allow me to tell you my opinion, and to show you to what a dreadful length this doctrine leads. When you say that 'attrition, induced by the mere dread of punishment,' is sufficient, with the sacrament, to justify sinners, does it not follow that a person may always expiate his sins in this way, and thus be saved without ever having loved God all his lifetime? Would your fathers venture to hold that?" "I perceive," replied the monk, "from the strain of your remarks, that you need some information on the doctrine of our fathers regarding the love of God. This is the last feature of their morality, and the most important of all. You must have learned something of it from the passages about contrition which I have quoted to you. But here are others still more definite on the point of love to God- Don't interrupt me, now; for it is of importance to notice the connection. Attend to Escobar, who reports the different opinions of our authors, in his Practice of the Love of God according to our Society. The question is: 'When is one obliged to have an actual affection for God?' Suarez says it is enough if one loves Him before being articulo mortis- at the point of death- without determining the exact time. Vasquez, that it is sufficient even at the very point of death. Others, when one has received baptism. Others, again, when one is bound to exercise contrition. And others, on festival days. But our father, Castro Palao, combats all these opinions, and with good reason- merito. Hurtado de Mendoza insists that we are obliged to love God once a year; and that we ought to regard it as a great favour that we are not bound to do it oftener. But our Father Coninck thinks that we are bound to it only once in three or four years; Henriquez, once in five years; and Filiutius says that it is probable that we are not strictly bound to it even once in five years. How often, then, do you ask? Why, he refers it to the judgement of the judicious." I took no notice of all this badinage, in which the ingenuity of man seems to be sporting, in the height of insolence, with the love of God. "But," pursued the monk, "our Father Antony Sirmond surpasses all on this point, in his admirable book, The Defence of Virtue, where, as he tells the reader, 'he speaks French in France,' as follows: 'St. Thomas says that we are obliged to love God as soon as we come to the use of reason: that is rather too soon! Scotus says every Sunday; pray, for what reason? Others say when we are sorely tempted: yes, if there be no other way of escaping the temptation. Scotus says when we have received a benefit from God: good, in the way of thanking Him for it. Others say at death: rather late! As little do I think it binding at the reception of any sacrament: attrition in such cases is quite enough, along with confession, if convenient. Suarez says that it is binding at some time or another; but at what time?- he leaves you to judge of that for yourself- he does not know; and what that doctor did not know I know not who should know.' In short, he concludes that we are not strictly bound to more than to keep the other commandments, without any affection for God, and without giving Him our hearts, provided that we do not hate Him. To prove this is the sole object of his second treatise. You will find it in every page; more especially where he says: 'God, in commanding us to love Him, is satisfied with our obeying Him in his other commandments. If God had said: "Whatever obedience thou yieldest me, if thy heart is not given to me, I will destroy thee!" would such a motive, think you, be well fitted to promote the end which God must, and only can, have in view? Hence it is said that we shall love God by doing His will, as if we loved Him with affection, as if the motive in this case was real charity. If that is really our motive, so much the better; if not, still we are strictly fulfilling the commandment of love, by having its works, so that (such is the goodness of God!) we are commanded, not so much to love Him, as not to hate Him.' "Such is the way in which our doctors have discharged men from the painful obligation of actually loving God. And this doctrine is so advantageous that our Fathers Annat, Pintereau, Le Moine, and Antony Sirmond himself, have strenuously defended it when it has been attacked. You have only to consult their answers to the Moral Theology. That of Father Pintereau, in particular, will enable you to form some idea of the value of this dispensation, from the price which he tells us that it cost, which is no less than the blood of Jesus Christ. This crowns the whole. It appears, that this dispensation from the painful obligation to love God, is the privilege of the Evangelical law, in opposition to the Judaical. 'It was reasonable,' he says, 'that, under the law of grace in the New Testament, God should relieve us from that troublesome and arduous obligation which existed under the law of bondage, to exercise an act of perfect contrition, in order to be justified; and that the place of this should be supplied by the sacraments, instituted in aid of an easier disposition. Otherwise, indeed, Christians, who are the children, would have no greater facility in gaining the good graces of their Father than the Jews, who were the slaves, had in obtaining the mercy of their Lord and Master.'" "O father!" cried I; "no patience can stand this any longer. It is impossible to listen without horror to the sentiments I have just heard." "They are not my sentiments," said the monk. "I grant it, sir," said I; "but you feel no aversion to them; and, so far from detesting the authors of these maxims, you hold them in esteem. Are you not afraid that your consent may involve you in a participation of their guilt? and are you not aware that St. Paul judges worthy of death, not only the authors of evil things, but also 'those who have pleasure in them that do them?' Was it not enough to have permitted men to indulge in so many forbidden things under the covert of your palliations? Was it necessary to go still further and hold out a bribe to them to commit even those crimes which you found it impossible to excuse, by offering them an easy and certain absolution; and for this purpose nullifying the power of the priests, and obliging them, more as slaves than as judges, to absolve the most inveterate sinners- without any amendment of life, without any sign of contrition except promises a hundred times broken, without penance 'unless they choose to accept of it', and without abandoning the occasions of their vices, 'if they should thereby be put to any inconvenience?' "But your doctors have gone even beyond this; and the license which they have assumed to tamper with the most holy rules of Christian conduct amounts to a total subversion of the law of God. They violate 'the great commandment on which hang all the law and the prophets'; they strike at the very heart of piety; they rob it of the spirit that giveth life; they hold that to love God is not necessary to salvation; and go so far as to maintain that 'this dispensation from loving God is the privilege which Jesus Christ has introduced into the world!' This, sir, is the very climax of impiety. The price of the blood of Jesus Christ paid to obtain us a dispensation from loving Him! Before the incarnation, it seems men were obliged to love God; but since 'God has so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son,' the world, redeemed by him, is released from loving Him! Strange divinity of our days- to dare to take off the 'anathema' which St. Paul denounces on those 'that love not the Lord Jesus!' To cancel the sentence of St. John: 'He that loveth not, abideth in death!' and that of Jesus Christ himself: 'He that loveth me not keepeth not my precepts!' and thus to render those worthy of enjoying God through eternity who never loved God all their life! Behold the Mystery of Iniquity fulfilled! Open your eyes at length, my dear father, and if the other aberrations of your casuists have made no impression on you, let these last, by their very extravagance, compel you to abandon them. This is what I desire from the bottom of my heart, for your own sake and for the sake of your doctors; and my prayer to God is that He would vouchsafe to convince them how false the light must be that has guided them to such precipices; and that He would fill their hearts with that love of Himself from which they have dared to give man a dispensation!" After some remarks of this nature, I took my leave of the monk, and I see no great likelihood of my repeating my visits to him. This, however, need not occasion you any regret; for, should it be necessary to continue these communications on their maxims, I have studied their books sufficiently to tell you as much of their morality, and more, perhaps, of their policy, than he could have done himself. I am, &c.


August 18, 1656 REVEREND FATHERS, I have seen the letters which you are circulating in opposition to those which I wrote to one of my friends on your morality; and I perceive that one of the principal points of your defence is that I have not spoken of your maxims with sufficient seriousness. This charge you repeat in all your productions, and carry it so far as to allege, that I have been "guilty of turning sacred things into ridicule." Such a charge, fathers, is no less surprising than it is unfounded. Where do you find that I have turned sacred things into ridicule? You specify "the Mohatra contract, and the story of John d'Alba." But are these what you call "sacred things?" Does it really appear to you that the Mohatra is something so venerable that it would be blasphemy not to speak of it with respect? And the lessons of Father Bauny on larceny, which led John d'Alba to practise it at your expense, are they so sacred as to entitle you to stigmatize all who laugh at them as profane people? What, fathers! must the vagaries of your doctors pass for the verities of the Christian faith, and no man be allowed to ridicule Escobar, or the fantastical and unchristian dogmas of your authors, without being stigmatized as jesting at religion? Is it possible you can have ventured to reiterate so often an idea so utterly unreasonable? Have you no fears that, in blaming me for laughing at your absurdities, you may only afford me fresh subject of merriment; that you may make the charge recoil on yourselves, by showing that I have really selected nothing from your writings as the matter of raillery but what was truly ridiculous; and that thus, in making a jest of your morality, I have been as far from jeering at holy things, as the doctrine of your casuists is far from being the holy doctrine of the Gospel? Indeed, reverend sirs, there is a vast difference between laughing at religion and laughing at those who profane it by their extravagant opinions. It were impiety to be wanting in respect for the verities which the Spirit of God has revealed; but it were no less impiety of another sort to be wanting in contempt for the falsities which the spirit of man opposes to them. For, fathers (since you will force me into this argument), I beseech you to consider that, just in proportion as Christian truths are worthy of love and respect, the contrary errors must deserve hatred and contempt; there being two things in the truths of our religion: a divine beauty that renders them lovely, and a sacred majesty that renders them venerable; and two things also about errors: an impiety, that makes them horrible, and an impertinence that renders them ridiculous. For these reasons, while the saints have ever cherished towards the truth the twofold sentiment of love and fear- the whole of their wisdom being comprised between fear, which is its beginning, and love, which is its end- they have, at the same time, entertained towards error the twofold feeling of hatred and contempt, and their zeal has been at once employed to repel, by force of reasoning, the malice of the wicked, and to chastise, by the aid of ridicule, their extravagance and folly. Do not then expect, fathers, to make people believe that it is unworthy of a Christian to treat error with derision. Nothing is easier than to convince all who were not aware of it before that this practice is perfectly just- that it is common with the fathers of the Church, and that it is sanctioned by Scripture, by the example of the best of saints, and even by that of God himself. Do we not find God at once hates and despises sinners; so that even at the hour of death, when their condition is most sad and deplorable, Divine Wisdom adds mockery to the vengeance which consigns them to eternal punishment? "In interitu vestro ridebo et subsannabo- I will laugh at your calamity." The saints, too, influenced by the same feeling, will join in the derision; for, according to David, when they witness the punishment of the wicked, "they shall fear, and yet laugh at it- videbunt justi et timebunt, et super eum ridebunt." And Job says: "Innocens subsannabit eos- The innocent shall laugh at them." It is worthy of remark here that the very first words which God addressed to man after his fall contain, in the opinion of the fathers, "bitter irony" and mockery. After Adam had disobeyed his Maker, in the hope, suggested by the devil, of being like God, it appears from Scripture that God, as a punishment, subjected him to death; and after having reduced him to this miserable condition, which was due to his sin, He taunted him in that state with the following terms of derision: "Behold, the man has become as one of us!- Ecce Adam quasi unus ex nobis!"- which, according to St. Jerome and the interpreters, is "a grievous and cutting piece of irony," with which God "stung him to the quick." "Adam," says Rupert, "deserved to be taunted in this manner, and he would be naturally made to feel his folly more acutely by this ironical expression than by a more serious one." St. Victor, after making the same remark, adds, "that this irony was due to his sottish credulity, and that this species of rainery is an act of justice, merited by him against whom it was directed." Thus you see, fathers, that ridicule is, in some cases, a very appropriate means of reclaiming men from their errors, and that it is accordingly an act of justice, because, as Jeremiah says, "the actions of those that err are worthy of derision, because of their vanity- vana sunt es risu digna." And so far from its being impious to laugh at them, St. Augustine holds it to be the effect of divine wisdom: "The wise laugh at the foolish, because they are wise, not after their own wisdom, but after that divine wisdom which shall laugh at the death of the wicked." The prophets, accordingly, filled with the Spirit of God, have availed themselves of ridicule, as we find from the examples of Daniel and Elias. In short, examples of it are not wanting in the discourses of Jesus Christ himself. St. Augustine remarks that, when he would humble Nicodemus, who deemed himself so expert in his knowledge of the law, "perceiving him to be pulled up with pride, from his rank as doctor of the Jews, he first beats down his presumption by the magnitude of his demands, and, having reduced him so low that he was unable to answer, What! says he, you a master in Israel, and not know these things!- as if he had said, Proud ruler, confess that thou knowest nothing." St. Chrysostom and St. Cyril likewise observe upon this that "he deserved to be ridiculed in this manner." You may learn from this, fathers, that should it so happen, in our day that persons who enact the part of "masters" among Christians, as Nicodemus and the Pharisees did among the Jews, show themselves so ignorant of the first principles of religion as to maintain, for example, that "a man may be saved who never loved God all his life," we only follow the example of Jesus Christ when we laugh at such a combination of ignorance and conceit. I am sure, fathers, these sacred examples are sufficient to convince you that to deride the errors and extravagances of man is not inconsistent with the practice of the saints; otherwise we must blame that of the greatest doctors of the Church, who have been guilty of it- such as St. Jerome, in his letters and writings against Jovinian, Vigilantius, and the Pelagians; Tertullian, in his Apology against the follies of idolaters; St. Augustine against the monks of Africa, whom he styles "the hairy men"; St. Irenaeus the Gnostics; St. Bernard and the other fathers of the Church, who, having been the imitators of the apostles, ought to be imitated by the faithful in all time coming; for, say what we will, they are the true models for Christians, even of the present day. In following such examples, I conceived that I could not go far wrong; and, as I think I have sufficiently established this position, I shall only add, in the admirable words of Tertullian, which give the true explanation of the whole of my proceeding in this matter: "What I have now done is only a little sport before the real combat. I have rather indicated the wounds that might be given you than inflicted any. If the reader has met with passages which have excited his risibility, he must ascribe this to the subjects themselves. There are many things which deserve to be held up in this way to ridicule and mockery, lest, by a serious refutation, we should attach a weight to them which they do not deserve. Nothing is more due to vanity than laughter; and it is the Truth properly that has a right to laugh, because she is cheerful, and to make sport of her enemies, because she is sure of the victory. Care must be taken, indeed, that the raillery is not too low, and unworthy of the truth; but, keeping this in view, when ridicule may be employed with effect, it is a duty to avail ourselves of it." Do you not think fathers, that this passage is singularly applicable to our subject? The letters which I have hitherto written are "merely a little sport before a real combat." As yet, I have been only playing with the foils and "rather indicating the wounds that might be given you than inflicting any." I have merely exposed your passages to the light, without making scarcely a reflection on them. "If the reader has met with any that have excited his risibility, he must ascribe this to the subjects themselves." And, indeed, what is more fitted to raise a laugh than to see a matter so grave as that of Christian morality decked out with fancies so grotesque as those in which you have exhibited it? One is apt to form such high anticipations of these maxims, from being told that "Jesus Christ himself has revealed them to the fathers of the Society," that when one discovers among them such absurdities as "that a priest, receiving money to say a mass, may take additional sums from other persons by giving up to them his own share in the sacrifice"; "that a monk is not to be excommunicated for putting off his habit, provided it is to dance, swindle, or go incognito into infamous houses"; and "that the duty of hearing mass may be fulfilled by listening to four quarters of a mass at once from different priests"- when, I say, one listens to such decisions as these, the surprise is such that it is impossible to refrain from laughing; for nothing is more calculated to produce that emotion than a startling contrast between the thing looked for and the thing looked at. And why should the greater part of these maxims be treated in any other way? As Tertullian says, "To treat them seriously would be to sanction them." What! is it necessary to bring up all the forces of Scripture and tradition, in order to prove that running a sword through a man's body, covertly and behind his back, is to murder him in treachery? or, that to give one money as a motive to resign a benefice, is to purchase the benefice? Yes, there are things which it is duty to despise, and which "deserve only to be laughed at." In short, the remark of that ancient author, "that nothing is more due to vanity than derision, with what follows, applies to the case before us so justly and so convincingly, as to put it beyond all question that we may laugh at errors without violating propriety. And let me add, fathers, that this may be done without any breach of charity either, though this is another of the charges you bring against me in your publications. For, according to St. Augustine, "charity may sometimes oblige us to ridicule the errors of men, that they may be induced to laugh at them in their turn, and renounce them- Haec tu misericorditer irride, ut eis ridenda ac fugienda commendes." And the same charity may also, at other times, bind us to repel them with indignation, according to that other saying of St. Gregory of Nazianzen: "The spirit of meekness and charity hath its emotions and its heats." Indeed, as St. Augustine observes, "who would venture to say that truth ought to stand disarmed against falsehood, or that the enemies of the faith shall be at liberty to frighten the faithful with hard words, and jeer at them with lively sallies of wit; while the Catholics ought never to write except with a coldness of style enough to set the reader asleep?" Is it not obvious that, by following such a course, a wide door would be opened for the introduction of the most extravagant and pernicious dogmas into the Church; while none would be allowed to treat them with contempt, through fear of being charged with violating propriety, or to confute them with indignation, from the dread of being taxed with want of charity? Indeed, fathers! shall you be allowed to maintain, "that it is lawful to kill a man to avoid a box on the ear or an affront," and must nobody be permitted publicly to expose a public error of such consequence? Shall you be at liberty to say, "that a judge may in conscience retain a fee received for an act of injustice," and shall no one be at liberty to contradict you? Shall you print, with the privilege and approbation of your doctors, "that a man may be saved without ever having loved God"; and will you shut the mouth of those who defend the true faith, by telling them that they would violate brotherly love by attacking you, and Christian modesty by laughing at your maxims? I doubt, fathers, if there be any persons whom you could make believe this; if however, there be any such, who are really persuaded that, by denouncing your morality, I have been deficient in the charity which I owe to you, I would have them examine, with great jealousy, whence this feeling takes its rise within them. They may imagine that it proceeds from a holy zeal, which will not allow them to see their neighbour impeached without being scandalized at it; but I would entreat them to consider that it is not impossible that it may flow from another source, and that it is even extremely likely that it may spring from that secret, and often self-concealed dissatisfaction, which the unhappy corruption within us seldom fails to stir up against those who oppose the relaxation of morals. And, to furnish them with a rule which may enable them to ascertain the real principle from which it proceeds, I will ask them if, while they lament the way in which the religious have been treated, they lament still more the manner in which these religious have treated the truth; if they are incensed, not only against the letters, but still more against the maxims quoted in them. I shall grant it to be barely possible that their resentment proceeds from some zeal, though not of the most enlightened kind; and, in this case, the passages I have just cited from the fathers will serve to enlighten them. But if they are merely angry at the reprehension, and not at the things reprehended, truly, fathers, I shall never scruple to tell them that they are grossly mistaken, and that their zeal is miserably blind. Strange zeal, indeed! which gets angry at those that censure public faults, and not at those that commit them! Novel charity this, which groans at seeing error confuted, but feels no grief at seeing morality subverted by that error. If these persons were in danger of being assassinated, pray, would they be offended at one advertising them of the stratagem that had been laid for them; and instead of turning out of their way to avoid it, would they trifle away their time in whining about the little charity manifested in discovering to them the criminal design of the assassins? Do they get waspish when one tells them not to eat such an article of food, because it is poisoned? or not to enter such a city, because it has the plague? Whence comes it, then, that the same persons who set down a man as wanting in charity, for exposing maxims hurtful to religion, would, on the contrary, think him equally deficient in that grace were he not to disclose matters hurtful to health and life, unless it be from this, that their fondness for life induces them to take in good part every hint that contributes to its preservation, while their indifference to truth leads them, not only to take no share in its defence, but even to view with pain the efforts made for the extirpation of falsehood? Let them seriously ponder, as in the sight of God, how shameful, and how prejudicial to the Church, is the morality which your casuists are in the habit of propagating; the scandalous and unmeasured license which they are introducing into public manners; the obstinate and violent hardihood with which you support them. And if they do not think it full time to rise against such disorders, their blindness is as much to be pitied as yours, fathers; and you and they have equal reason to dread that saying of St. Augustine, founded on the words of Jesus Christ, in the Gospel: "Woe to the blind leaders! woe to the blind followers!- Vae caecis ducentibus! vae caecis sequentibus!" But, to leave you no room in future, either to create such impressions on the minds of others, or to harbour them in your own, I shall tell you, fathers (and I am ashamed I should have to teach you what I should have rather learnt from you), the marks which the fathers of the Church have given for judging when our animadversions flow from a principle of piety and charity, and when from a spirit of malice and impiety. The first of these rules is that the spirit of piety always prompts us to speak with sincerity and truthfulness; whereas malice and envy make use of falsehood and calumny. "Splendentia et vehementia, sed rebus veris- Splendid and vehement in words, but true in things," as St. Augustine says. The dealer in falsehood is an agent of the devil. No direction of the intention can sanctify slander; and though the conversion of the whole earth should depend on it, no man may warrantably calumniate the innocent: because none may do the least evil, in order to accomplish the greatest good; and, as the Scripture says, "the truth of God stands in no need of our lie." St. Hilary observes that "it is the bounden duty of the advocates of truth, to advance nothing in its support but true things." Now, fathers, I can declare before God that there is nothing that I detest more than the slightest possible deviation from the truth, and that I have ever taken the greatest care, not only not to falsify (which would be horrible), but not to alter or wrest, in the slightest possible degree, the sense of a single passage. So closely have I adhered to this rule that, if I may presume to apply them to the present case, I may safely say, in the words of the same St. Hilary: "If we advance things that are false, let our statements be branded with infamy; but if we can show that they are public and notorious, it is no breach of apostolic modesty or liberty to expose them." It is not enough, however, to tell nothing but the truth; we must not always tell everything that is true; we should publish only those things which it is useful to disclose, and not those which can only hurt, without doing any good. And, therefore, as the first rule is to speak with truth, the second is to speak with discretion. "The wicked," says St. Augustine, "in persecuting the good, blindly follow the dictates of their passion; but the good, in their prosecution of the wicked, are guided by a wise discretion, even as the surgeon warily considers where he is cutting, while the murderer cares not where he strikes." You must be sensible, fathers, that in selecting from the maxims of your authors, I have refrained from quoting those which would have galled you most, though I might have done it, and that without sinning against discretion, as others who were both learned and Catholic writers, have done before me. All who have read your authors know how far I have spared you in this respect. Besides, I have taken no notice whatever of what might be brought against individual characters among you; and I would have been extremely sorry to have said a word about secret and personal failings, whatever evidence I might have of them, being persuaded that this is the distinguishing property of malice, and a practice which ought never to be resorted to, unless where it is urgently demanded for the good of the Church. It is obvious, therefore, that, in what I have been compelled to advance against your moral maxims, I have been by no means wanting in due consideration: and that you have more reason to congratulate yourself on my moderation than to complain of my indiscretion. The third rule, fathers, is: That when there is need to employ a little raillery, the spirit of piety will take care to employ it against error only, and not against things holy; whereas the spirit of buffoonery, impiety, and heresy, mocks at all that is most sacred. I have already vindicated myself on that score; and indeed there is no great danger of falling into that vice so long as I confine my remarks to the opinions which I have quoted from your authors. In short, fathers, to abridge these rules, I shall only mention another, which is the essence and the end of all the rest: That the spirit of charity prompts us to cherish in the heart a desire for the salvation of those against whom we dispute, and to address our prayers to God while we direct our accusations to men. "We ought ever," says St. Augustine, "to preserve charity in the heart, even while we are obliged to pursue a line of external conduct which to man has the appearance of harshness; we ought to smite them with a sharpness, severe but kindly, remembering that their advantage is more to be studied than their gratification." I am sure, fathers, that there is nothing in my letters from which it can be inferred that I have not cherished such a desire towards you; and as you can find nothing to the contrary in them, charity obliges you to believe that I have been really actuated by it. It appears, then, that you cannot prove that I have offended against this rule, or against any of the other rules which charity inculcates; and you have no right to say, therefore, that I have violated it. But, fathers, if you should now like to have the pleasure of seeing, within a short compass, a course of conduct directly at variance with each of these rules, and bearing the genuine stamp of the spirit of buffoonery, envy, and hatred, I shall give you a few examples of it; and, that they may be of the sort best known and most familiar to you, I shall extract them from your own writings. To begin, then, with the unworthy manner in which your authors speak of holy things, whether in their sportive and gallant effusions, or in their more serious pieces, do you think that the parcel of ridiculous stories, which your father Binet has introduced into his Consolation to the Sick, are exactly suitable to his professed object, which is that of imparting Christian consolation to those whom God has chastened with affliction? Will you pretend to say that the profane, foppish style in which your Father Le Moine has talked of piety in his Devotion made Easy is more fitted to inspire respect than contempt for the picture that he draws of Christian virtues? What else does his whole book of Moral Pictures breathe, both in its prose and poetry, but a spirit full of vanity, and the follies of this world? Take, for example, that ode in his seventh book, entitled, "Eulogy on Bashfulness, showing that all beautiful things are red, or inclined to redden." Call you that a production worthy of a priest? The ode is intended to comfort a lady, called Delphina, who was sadly addicted to blushing. Each stanza is devoted to show that certain red things are the best of things, such as roses, pomegranates, the mouth, the tongue; and it is in the midst of this badinage, so disgraceful in a clergyman, that he has the effrontery to introduce those blessed spirits that minister before God, and of whom no Christian should speak without reverence: "The cherubim- those glorious choirs- Composed of head and plumes, Whom God with His own Spirit inspires, And with His eyes illumes. These splendid faces, as they fly, Are ever red and burning high, With fire angelic or divine; And while their mutual flames combine, The waving of their wings supplies A fan to cool their ecstasies! But redness shines with better grace, Delphina, on thy beauteous face, Where modesty sits revelling- Arrayed in purple, like a king," &c. What think you of this, fathers? Does this preference of the blushes of Delphina to the ardour of those spirits, which is neither more nor less than the ardour of divine love, and this simile of the fan applied to their mysterious wings, strike you as being very Christian-like in the lips which consecrate the adorable body of Jesus Christ? I am quite aware that he speaks only in the character of a gallant and to raise a smile; but this is precisely what is called laughing at things holy. And is it not certain, that, were he to get full justice, he could not save himself from incurring a censure? although, to shield himself from this, he pleads an excuse which is hardly less censurable than the offence, "that the Sorbonne has no jurisdiction over Parnassus, and that the errors of that land are subject neither to censure nor the Inquisition"; as if one could act the blasphemer and profane fellow only in prose! There is another passage, however, in the preface, where even this excuse fails him, when he says, "that the water of the river, on whose banks he composes his verses, is so apt to make poets, that, though it were converted into holy water, it would not chase away the demon of poesy." To match this, I may add the following flight of your Father Garasse, in his Summary of the Capital Truths in Religion, where, speaking of the sacred mystery of the incarnation, he mixes up blasphemy and heresy in this fashion: "The human personality was grafted, as it were, or set on horseback, upon the personality of the Word!" And omitting many others, I might mention another passage from the same author, who, speaking on the subject of the name of Jesus, ordinarily written thus, + I.H.S. observes that "some have taken away the cross from the top of it, leaving the characters barely thus, I.H.S.- which," says he, "is a stripped Jesus!" Such is the indecency with which you treat the truths of religion, in the face of the inviolable law which binds us always to speak of them with reverence. But you have sinned no less flagrantly against the rule which obliges us to speak of them with truth and discretion. What is more common in your writings than calumny? Can those of Father Brisacier be called sincere? Does he speak with truth when he says that "the nuns of Port-Royal do not pray to the saints, and have no images in their church?" Are not these most outrageous falsehoods, when the contrary appears before the eyes of all Paris? And can he be said to speak with discretion when he stabs the fair reputation of these virgins, who lead a life so pure and austere, representing them as "impenitent, unsacramentalists, uncommunicants, foolish virgins, visionaries, Calagans, desperate creatures, and anything you please," loading them with many other slanders, which have justly incurred the censure of the late Archbishop of Paris? Or when he calumniates priests of the most irreproachable morals, by asserting "that they practise novelties in confession, to entrap handsome innocent females, and that he would be horrified to tell the abominable crimes which they commit." Is it not a piece of intolerable assurance to advance slanders so black and base, not merely without proof, but without the slightest shadow, or the most distant semblance of truth? I shall not enlarge on this topic, but defer it to a future occasion, for I have something more to say to you about it; but what I have now produced is enough to show that you have sinned at once against truth and discretion. But it may be said, perhaps, that you have not offended against the last rule at least, which binds you to desire the salvation of those whom you denounce, and that none can charge you with this, except by unlocking the secrets of your breasts, which are only known to God. It is strange, fathers, but true, nevertheless, that we can convict you even of this offence; that while your hatred to your opponents has carried you so far as to wish their eternal perdition, your infatuation has driven you to discover the abominable wish that, so far from cherishing in secret desires for their salvation, you have offered up prayers in public for their damnation; and that, after having given utterance to that hideous vow in the city of Caen, to the scandal of the whole Church, you have since then ventured, in Paris, to vindicate, in your printed books, the diabolical transaction. After such gross offences against piety, first ridiculing and speaking lightly of things the most sacred; next falsely and scandalously calumniating priests and virgins; and lastly, forming desires and prayers for their damnation, it would be difficult to add anything worse. I cannot conceive, fathers, how you can fail to be ashamed of yourselves, or how you could have thought for an instant of charging me with a want of charity, who have acted all along with so much truth and moderation, without reflecting on your own horrid violations of charity, manifested in those deplorable exhibitions, which make the charge recoil against yourselves. In fine, fathers, to conclude with another charge which you bring against me, I see you complain that among the vast number of your maxims which I quote, there are some which have been objected to already, and that I "say over again, what others have said before me." To this I reply that it is just because you have not profited by what has been said before that I say it over again. Tell me now what fruit has appeared from all the castigations you have received in all the books written by learned doctors and even the whole University? What more have your Fathers Annat, Caussin, Pintereau, and Le Moine done, in the replies they have put forth, except loading with reproaches those who had given them salutary admonitions? Have you suppressed the books in which these nefarious maxims are taught? Have you restrained the authors of these maxims? Have you become more circumspect in regard to them? On the contrary, is it not the fact that since that time Escobar has been repeatedly reprinted in France and in the Low Countries, and that your fathers Cellot, Bagot, Bauny, Lamy, Le Moine, and others, persist in publishing daily the same maxims over again, or new ones as licentious as ever? Let us hear no more complaints, then, fathers, either because I have charged you with maxims which you have not disavowed, or because I have objected to some new ones against you, or because I have laughed equally at them all. You have only to sit down and look at them, to see at once your own confusion and my defence. Who can look without laughing at the decision of Bauny, respecting the person who employs another to set fire to his neighbour's barn; that of Cellot on restitution; the rule of Sanchez in favour of sorcerers; the plan of Hurtado for avoiding the sin of duelling by taking a walk through a field and waiting for a man; the compliments of Bauny for escaping usury; the way of avoiding simony by a detour of the intention, and keeping clear of falsehood by speaking high and low; and such other opinions of your most grave and reverend doctors? Is there anything more necessary, fathers, for my vindication? And, as Tertullian says, "can anything be more justly due to the vanity and weakness of these opinions than laughter?" But, fathers, the corruption of manners, to which your maxims lead, deserves another sort of consideration; and it becomes us to ask, with the same ancient writer: "Whether ought we to laugh at their folly, or deplore their blindness?- Rideam vanitatem, an exprobrem caecitatem?" My humble opinion is that one may either laugh at them or weep over them, as one is in the humour. "Haec tolerabilius vel ridentur, vel flentur, " as St. Augustine says. The Scripture tells us that "there is a time to laugh, and a time to weep"; and my hope is, fathers, that I may not find verified, in your case, these words in the Proverbs: "If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest." P.S.- On finishing this letter, there was put in my hands one of your publications, in which you accuse me of falsification, in the case of six of your maxims quoted by me, and also with being in correspondence with heretics. You will shortly receive, I trust, a suitable reply; after which, fathers, I rather think you will not feel very anxious to continue this species of warfare.


September 9, 1656 REVEREND FATHERS, I was prepared to write you on the subject of the abuse with which you have for some time past been assailing me in your publications, in which you salute me with such epithets as "reprobate," "buffoon," "blockhead," "merry- Andrew," "impostor," "slanderer," "cheat," "heretic," "Calvinist in disguise," "disciple of Du Moulin," "possessed with a legion of devils," and everything else you can think of. As I should be sorry to have all this believed of me, I was anxious to show the public why you treated me in this manner; and I had resolved to complain of your calumnies and falsifications, when I met with your Answers, in which you bring these same charges against myself. This will compel me to alter my plan; though it will not prevent me from prosecuting it in some sort, for I hope, while defending myself, to convict you of impostures more genuine than the imaginary ones which you have ascribed to me. Indeed, fathers, the suspicion of foul play is much more sure to rest on you than on me. It is not very likely, standing as I do, alone, without power or any human defence against such a large body, and having no support but truth and integrity, that I would expose myself to lose everything by laying myself open to be convicted of imposture. It is too easy to discover falsifications in matters of fact such as the present. In such a case there would have been no want of persons to accuse me, nor would justice have been denied them. With you, fathers, the case is very different; you may say as much as you please against me, while I may look in vain for any to complain to. With such a wide difference between our positions, though there had been no other consideration to restrain me, it became me to study no little caution. By treating me, however, as a common slanderer, you compel me to assume the defensive, and you must be aware that this cannot be done without entering into a fresh exposition and even into a fuller disclosure of the points of your morality. In provoking this discussion, I fear you are not acting as good politicians. The war must be waged within your own camp and at your own expense; and, although you imagine that, by embroiling the questions with scholastic terms, the answers will be so tedious, thorny, and obscure, that people will lose all relish for the controversy, this may not, perhaps, turn out to be exactly the case; I shall use my best endeavours to tax your patience as little as possible with that sort of writing. Your maxims have something diverting about them, which keeps up the good humour of people to the last. At all events, remember that it is you that oblige me to enter upon this eclaircissement, and let us see which of us comes off best in self-defence. The first of your Impostures, as you call them, is on the opinion of Vasquez upon alms-giving. To avoid all ambiguity, then, allow me to give a simple explanation of the matter in dispute. It is well known, fathers, that, according to the mind of the Church, there are two precepts touching alms: 1st, "To give out of our superfluity in the case of the ordinary necessities of the poor"; and 2nd, "To give even out of our necessaries, according to our circumstances, in cases of extreme necessity." Thus says Cajetan, after St. Thomas; so that, to get at the mind of Vasquez on this subject, we must consider the rules he lays down, both in regard to necessaries and superfluities. With regard to superfluity, which is the most common source of relief to the poor, it is entirely set aside by that single maxim which I have quoted in my Letters: "That what the men of the world keep with the view of improving their own condition, and that of their relatives, is not properly superfluity; so that such a thing as superfluity is rarely to be met with among men of the world, not even excepting kings." It is very easy to see, fathers, that, according to this definition, none can have superfluity, provided they have ambition; and thus, so far as the greater part of the world is concerned, alms-giving is annihilated. But even though a man should happen to have superfluity, he would be under no obligation, according to Vasquez, to give it away in the case of ordinary necessity; for he protests against those who would thus bind the rich. Here are his own words: "Corduba," says he, "teaches that when we have a superfluity we are bound to give out of it in cases of ordinary necessity; but this does not please me- sed hoc non placet- for we have demonstrated the contrary against Cajetan and Navarre." So, fathers, the obligation to this kind of alms is wholly set aside, according to the good pleasure of Vasquez. With regard to necessaries, out of which we are bound to give in cases of extreme and urgent necessity, it must be obvious, from the conditions by which he has limited the obligation, the richest man in all Paris may not come within its reach one in a lifetime. I shall only refer to two of these. The first is: That "we must know that the poor man cannot be relieved from any other quarter- haec intelligo et caetera omnia, quando SCIO nullum alium opem laturum." What say you to this, fathers? Is it likely to happen frequently in Paris, where there are so many charitable people, that I must know that there is not another soul but myself to relieve the poor wretch who begs an alms from me? And yet, according to Vasquez, if I have not ascertained that fact, I may send him away with nothing. The second condition is: That the poor man be reduced to such straits "that he is menaced with some fatal accident, or the ruin of his character"- none of them very common occurrences. But what marks still more the rarity of the cases in which one is bound to give charity, is his remark, in another passage, that the poor man must be so ill off, "that he may conscientiously rob the rich man!" This must surely be a very extraordinary case, unless he will insist that a man may be ordinarily allowed to commit robbery. And so, after having cancelled the obligation to give alms out of our superfluities, he obliges the rich to relieve the poor only in those cases when he would allow the poor to rifle the rich! Such is the doctrine of Vasquez, to whom you refer your readers for their edification! I now come to your pretended Impostures. You begin by enlarging on the obligation to alms-giving which Vasquez imposes on ecclesiastics. But on this point I have said nothing; and I am prepared to take it up whenever you choose. This, then, has nothing to do with the present question. As for laymen, who are the only persons with whom we have now to do, you are apparently anxious to have it understood that, in the passage which I quoted, Vasquez is giving not his own judgement, but that of Cajetan. But as nothing could be more false than this, and as you have not said it in so many terms, I am willing to believe, for the sake of your character, that you did not intend to say it. You next loudly complain that, after quoting that maxim of Vasquez, "Such a thing as superfluity is rarely if ever to be met with among men of the world, not excepting kings," I have inferred from it, "that the rich are rarely, if ever, bound to give alms out of their superfluity." But what do you mean to say, fathers? If it be true that the rich have almost never superfluity, is it not obvious that they will almost never be bound to give alms out of their superfluity? I might have put it into the form of a syllogism for you, if Diana, who has such an esteem for Vasquez that he calls him "the phoenix of genius," had not drawn the same conclusion from the same premisses; for, after quoting the maxim of Vasquez, he concludes, "that, with regard to the question, whether the rich are obliged to give alms out of their superfluity, though the affirmation were true, it would seldom, or almost never, happen to be obligatory in practice." I have followed this language word for word. What, then, are we to make of this, fathers? When Diana quotes with approbation the sentiments of Vasquez, when he finds them probable, and "very convenient for rich people," as he says in the same place, he is no slanderer, no falsifier, and we hear no complaints of misrepresenting his author; whereas, when I cite the same sentiments of Vasquez, though without holding him up as a phoenix, I am a slanderer, a fabricator, a corrupter of his maxims. Truly, fathers, you have some reason to be apprehensive, lest your very different treatment of those who agree in their representation, and differ only in their estimate of your doctrine, discover the real secret of your hearts and provoke the conclusion that the main object you have in view is to maintain the credit and glory of your Company. It appears that, provided your accommodating theology is treated as judicious complaisance, you never disavow those that publish it, but laud them as contributing to your design; but let it be held forth as pernicious laxity, and the same interest of your Society prompts you to disclaim the maxims which would injure you in public estimation. And thus you recognize or renounce them, not according to the truth, which never changes, but according to the shifting exigencies of the times, acting on that motto of one of the ancients, "Omnia pro tempore, nihil pro veritate- Anything for the times, nothing for the truth." Beware of this, fathers; and that you may never have it in your power again to say that I drew from the principle of Vasquez a conclusion which he had disavowed, I beg to inform you that he has drawn it himself: "According to the opinion of Cajetan, and according to my own- et secundum nostram- (he says, chap. i., no. 27), one is hardly obliged to give alms at all when one is only obliged to give them out of one's superfluity." Confess then, fathers, on the testimony of Vasquez himself, that I have exactly copied his sentiment; and think how you could have the conscience to say that "the reader, on consulting the original, would see to his astonishment that he there teaches the very reverse!" In fine, you insist, above all, that if Vasquez does not bind the rich to give alms out of their superfluity, he obliges them to atone for this by giving out of the necessaries of life. But you have forgotten to mention the list of conditions which he declares to be essential to constitute that obligation, which I have quoted, and which restrict it in such a way as almost entirely to annihilate it. In place of giving this honest statement of his doctrine, you tell us, in general terms, that he obliges the rich to give even what is necessary to their condition. This is proving too much, fathers; the rule of the Gospel does not go so far; and it would be an error, into which Vasquez is very far, indeed, from having fallen. To cover his laxity, you attribute to him an excess of severity which would be reprehensible; and thus you lose all credit as faithful reporters of his sentiments. But the truth is, Vasquez is quite free from any such suspicion; for he has maintained, as I have shown, that the rich are not bound, either in justice or in charity, to give of their superfluities, and still less of their necessaries, to relieve the ordinary wants of the poor; and that they are not obliged to give of the necessaries, except in cases so rare that they almost never happen. Having disposed of your objections against me on this head, it only remains to show the falsehood of your assertion that Vasquez is more severe than Cajetan. This will by very easily done. That cardinal teaches "that we are bound in justice to give alms out of our superfluity, even in the ordinary wants of the poor; because, according to the holy fathers, the rich are merely the dispensers of their superfluity, which they are to give to whom they please, among those who have need of it." And accordingly, unlike Diana, who says of the maxims of Vasquez that they will be "very convenient and agreeable to the rich and their confessors," the cardinal, who has no such consolation to afford them, declares that he has nothing to say to the rich but these words of Jesus Christ: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into heaven"; and to their confessors: "If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." So indispensable did he deem this obligation! This, too, is what the fathers and all the saints have laid down as a certain truth. "There are two cases," says St. Thomas, "in which we are bound to give alms as a matter of justice- ex debito legali: one, when the poor are in danger; the other, when we possess superfluous property." And again: "The three-tenths which the Jews were bound to eat with the poor, have been augmented under the new law; for Jesus Christ wills that we give to the poor, not the tenth only, but the whole of our superfluity." And yet it does not seem good to Vasquez that we should be obliged to give even a fragment of our superfluity; such is his complaisance to the rich, such his hardness to the poor, such his opposition to those feelings of charity which teach us to relish the truth contained in the following words of St. Gregory, harsh as it may sound to the rich of this world: "When we give the poor what is necessary to them, we are not so much bestowing on them what is our property as rendering to them what is their own; and it may be said to be an act of justice rather than a work of mercy." It is thus that the saints recommend the rich to share with the poor the good things of this earth, if they would expect to possess with them the good things of heaven. While you make it your business to foster in the breasts of men that ambition which leaves no superfluity to dispose of, and that avarice which refuses to part with it, the saints have laboured to induce the rich to give up their superfluity, and to convince them that they would have abundance of it, provided they measured it, not by the standard of covetousness, which knows no bounds to its cravings, but by that of piety, which is ingenious in retrenchments, so as to have wherewith to diffuse itself in the exercise of charity. "We will have a great deal of superfluity," says St. Augustine, "if we keep only what is necessary: but if we seek after vanities, we will never have enough. Seek, brethren, what is sufficient for the work of God"- that is, for nature- "and not for what is sufficient for your covetousness," which is the work of the devil: "and remember that the superfluities of the rich are the necessaries of the poor." I would fondly trust, fathers, that what I have now said to you may serve, not only for my vindication- that were a small matter- but also to make you feel and detest what is corrupt in the maxims of your casuists, and thus unite us sincerely under the sacred rules of the Gospel, according to which we must all be judged. As to the second point, which regards simony, before proceeding to answer the charges you have advanced against me, I shall begin by illustrating your doctrine on this subject. Finding yourselves placed in an awkward dilemma, between the canons of the Church, which impose dreadful penalties upon simoniacs, on the one hand, and the avarice of many who pursue this infamous traffic on the other, you have recourse to your ordinary method, which is to yield to men what they desire, and give the Almighty only words and shows. For what else does the simoniac want but money in return for his benefice? And yet this is what you exempt from the charge of simony. And as the name of simony must still remain standing, and a subject to which it may be ascribed, you have substituted, in the place of this, an imaginary idea, which never yet crossed the brain of a simoniac, and would not serve him much though it did- the idea, namely, that simony lies in estimating the money considered in itself as highly as the spiritual gift or office considered in itself. Who would ever take it into his head to compare things so utterly disproportionate and heterogeneous? And yet, provided this metaphysical comparison be not drawn, any one may, according to your authors, give away a benefice, and receive money in return for it, without being guilty of simony. Such is the way in which you sport with religion, in order to gratify the worst passions of men; and yet only see with what gravity your Father Valentia delivers his rhapsodies in the passage cited in my letters. He says: "One may give a spiritual for a temporal good in two ways- first, in the way of prizing the temporal more than the spiritual, and that would be simony; secondly, in the way of taking the temporal as the motive and end inducing one to give away the spiritual, but without prizing the temporal more than the spiritual, and then it is not simony. And the reason is that simony consists in receiving something temporal as the just price of what is spiritual. If, therefore, the temporal is sought- si petatur temporale- not as the price, but only as the motive determining us to part with the spiritual, it is by no means simony, even although the possession of the temporal may be principally intended and expected- minime erit simonia, etiamsi temporale principaliter intendatur et expectetur." Your redoubtable Sanchez has been favoured with a similar revelation; Escobar quotes him thus: "If one give a spiritual for a temporal good, not as the price, but as a motive to induce the collator to give it, or as an acknowledgement if the benefice has been actually received, is that simony? Sanchez assures us that it is not." In your Caen Theses of 1644 you say: "It is a probable opinion, taught by many Catholics, that it is not simony to exchange a temporal for a spiritual good, when the former is not given as a price." And as to Tanner, here is his doctrine, exactly the same with that of Valentia; and I quote it again to show you how far wrong it is in you to complain of me for saying that it does not agree with that of St. Thomas, for he avows it himself in the very passage which I quoted in my letter: "There is properly and truly no simony," says he, "unless when a temporal good is taken as the price of a spiritual; but when taken merely as the motive for giving the spiritual, or as an acknowledgement for having received it, this is not simony, at least in point of conscience." And again: "The same thing may be said, although the temporal should be regarded as the principal end, and even preferred to the spiritual; although St. Thomas and others appear to hold the reverse, inasmuch as they maintain it to be downright simony to exchange a spiritual for a temporal good, when the temporal is the end of the transaction." Such, then, being your doctrine on simony, as taught by your best authors, who follow each other very closely in this point, it only remains now to reply to your charges of misrepresentation. You have taken no notice of Valentia's opinion, so that his doctrine stands as it was before. But you fix on that of Tanner, maintaining that he has merely decided it to be no simony by divine right; and you would have it to be believed that, in quoting the passage, I have suppressed these words, divine right. This, fathers, is a most unconscionable trick; for these words, divine right, never existed in that passage. You add that Tanner declares it to be simony according to positive right. But you are mistaken; he does not say that generally, but only of particular cases, or, as he expresses it, in casibus a jure expressis, by which he makes an exception to the general rule he had laid down in that passage, "that it is not simony in point of conscience," which must imply that it is not so in point of positive right, unless you would have Tanner made so impious as to maintain that simony, in point of positive right, is not simony in point of conscience. But it is easy to see your drift in mustering up such terms as "divine right, positive right, natural right, internal and external tribunal, expressed cases, outward presumption," and others equally little known; you mean to escape under this obscurity of language, and make us lose sight of your aberrations. But, fathers, you shall not escape by these vain artifices; for I shall put some questions to you so simple, that they will not admit of coming under your distinguo. I ask you, then, without speaking of "positive rights," of "outward presumptions," or "external tribunals"- I ask if, according to your authors, a beneficiary would be simoniacal, were he to give a benefice worth four thousand livres of yearly rent, and to receive ten thousand francs ready money, not as the price of the benefice, but merely as a motive inducing him to give it? Answer me plainly, fathers: What must we make of such a case as this according to your authors? Will not Tanner tell us decidedly that "this is not simony in point of conscience, seeing that the temporal good is not the price of the benefice, but only the motive inducing to dispose of it?" Will not Valentia, will not your own Theses of Caen, will not Sanchez and Escobar, agree in the same decision and give the same reason for it? Is anything more necessary to exculpate that beneficiary from simony? And, whatever might be your private opinion of the case, durst you deal with that man as a simonist in your confessionals, when he would be entitled to stop your mouth by telling you that he acted according to the advice of so many grave doctors? Confess candidly, then, that, according to your views, that man would be no simonist; and, having done so, defend the doctrine as you best can. Such, fathers, is the true mode of treating questions, in order to unravel, instead of perplexing them, either by scholastic terms, or, as you have done in your last charge against me here, by altering the state of the question. Tanner, you say, has, at any rate, declared that such an exchange is a great sin; and you blame me for having maliciously suppressed this circumstance, which, you maintain, "completely justifies him." But you are wrong again, and that in more ways than one. For, first, though what you say had been true, it would be nothing to the point, the question in the passage to which I referred being, not if it was sin, but if it was simony. Now, these are two very different questions. Sin, according to your maxims, obliges only to confession- simony obliges to restitution; and there are people to whom these may appear two very different things. You have found expedients for making confession a very easy affair; but you have not fallen upon ways and means to make restitution an agreeable one. Allow me to add that the case which Tanner charges with sin is not simply that in which a spiritual good is exchanged for a temporal, the latter being the principal end in view, but that in which the party "prizes the temporal above the spiritual," which is the imaginary case already spoken of. And it must be allowed he could not go far wrong in charging such a case as that with sin, since that man must be either very wicked or very stupid who, when permitted to exchange the one thing for the other, would not avoid the sin of the transaction by such a simple process as that of abstaining from comparing the two things together. Besides, Valentia, in the place quoted, when treating the question- if it be sinful to give a spiritual good for a temporal, the latter being the main consideration- and after producing the reasons given for the affirmative, adds, "Sed hoc non videtur mihi satis certum- But this does not appear to my mind sufficiently certain." Since that time, however, your father, Erade Bille, professor of cases of conscience at Caen, has decided that there is no sin at all in the case supposed; for probable opinions, you know, are always in the way of advancing to maturity. This opinion he maintains in his writings of 1644, against which M. Dupre, doctor and professor at Caen, delivered that excellent oration, since printed and well known. For though this Erade Bille confesses that Valentia's doctrine, adopted by Father Milhard and condemned by the Sorbonne, "is contrary to the common opinion, suspected of simony, and punishable at law when discovered in practice," he does not scruple to say that it is a probable opinion, and consequently sure in point of conscience, and that there is neither simony nor sin in it. "It is a probable opinion, he says, "taught by many Catholic doctors, that there is neither any simony nor any sin in giving money, or any other temporal thing, for a benefice, either in the way of acknowledgement, or as a motive, without which it would not be given, provided it is not given as a price equal to the benefice." This is all that could possibly be desired. In fact, according to these maxims of yours, simony would be so exceedingly rare that we might exempt from this sin even Simon Magus himself, who desired to purchase the Holy Spirit and is the emblem of those simonists that buy spiritual things; and Gehazi, who took money for a miracle and may be regarded as the prototype of the simonists that sell them. There can be no doubt that when Simon, as we read in the Acts, "offered the apostles money, saying, Give me also this power"; he said nothing about buying or selling, or fixing the price; he did no more than offer the money as a motive to induce them to give him that spiritual gift; which being, according to you, no simony at all, he might, had be but been instructed in your maxims, have escaped the anathema of St. Peter. The same unhappy ignorance was a great loss to Gehazi, when he was struck with leprosy by Elisha; for, as he accepted the money from the prince who had been miraculously cured, simply as an acknowledgement, and not as a price equivalent to the divine virtue which had effected the miracle, he might have insisted on the prophet healing him again on pain of mortal sin; seeing, on this supposition, he would have acted according to the advice of your grave doctors, who, in such cases, oblige confessors to absolve their penitents and to wash them from that spiritual leprosy of which the bodily disease is the type. Seriously, fathers, it would be extremely easy to hold you up to ridicule in this matter, and I am at a loss to know why you expose yourselves to such treatment. To produce this effect, I have nothing more to do than simply to quote Escobar, in his Practice of Simony according to the Society of Jesus; "Is it simony when two Churchmen become mutually pledged thus: Give me your vote for my election as Provincial, and I shall give you mine for your election as prior? By no means." Or take another: "It is not simony to get possession of a benefice by promising a sum of money, when one has no intention of actually paying the money; for this is merely making a show of simony, and is as far from being real simony as counterfeit gold is from the genuine." By this quirk of conscience, he has contrived means, in the way of adding swindling to simony, for obtaining benefices without simony and without money. But I have no time to dwell longer on the subject, for I must say a word or two in reply to your third accusation, which refers to the subject of bankrupts. Nothing can be more gross than the manner in which you have managed this charge. You rail at me as a libeller in reference to a sentiment of Lessius, which I did not quote myself, but took from a passage in Escobar; and, therefore, though it were true that Lessius does not hold the opinion ascribed to him by Escobar, what can be more unfair than to charge me with the misrepresentation? When I quote Lessius or others of your authors myself, I am quite prepared to answer for it; but, as Escobar has collected the opinions of twenty-four of your writers, I beg to ask if I am bound to guarantee anything beyond the correctness of my citations from his book? Or if I must, in addition, answer for the fidelity of all his quotations of which I may avail myself? This would be hardly reasonable; and yet this is precisely the case in the question before us. I produced in my letter the following passage from Escobar, and you do not object to the fidelity of my translation: "May the bankrupt, with a good conscience, retain as much of his property as is necessary to afford him an honourable maintenance- ne indecore vivat? I answer, with Lessius, that he may- cum Lessio assero posse." You tell me that Lessius does not hold that opinion. But just consider for a moment the predicament in which you involve yourselves. If it turns out that he does hold that opinion, you will be set down as impostors for having asserted the contrary; and if it is proved that he does not hold it, Escobar will be the impostor; so it must now of necessity follow that one or other of the Society will be convicted of imposture. Only think what a scandal! You cannot, it would appear, foresee the consequences of things. You seem to imagine that you have nothing more to do than to cast aspersions upon people, without considering on whom they may recoil. Why did you not acquaint Escobar with your objection before venturing to publish it? He might have given you satisfaction. It is not so very troublesome to get word from Valladolid, where he is living in perfect health, and completing his grand work on Moral Theology, in six volumes, on the first of which I mean to say a few words by-and-by. They have sent him the first ten letters; you might as easily have sent him your objection, and I am sure he would have soon returned you an answer, for he has doubtless seen in Lessius the passage from which he took the ne indecore vivat. Read him yourselves, fathers, and you will find it word for word, as I have done. Here it is: "The same thing is apparent from the authorities cited, particularly in regard to that property which he acquires after his failure, out of which even the delinquent debtor may retain as much as is necessary for his honourable maintenance, according to his station of life- ut non indecore vivat. Do you ask if this rule applies to goods which he possessed at the time of his failure? Such seems to be the judgement of the doctors." I shall not stop here to show how Lessius, to sanction his maxim, perverts the law that allows bankrupts nothing more than a mere livelihood, and that makes no provision for "honourable maintenance." It is enough to have vindicated Escobar from such an accusation- it is more, indeed, than what I was in duty bound to do. But you, fathers, have not done your duty. It still remains for you to answer the passage of Escobar, whose decisions, by the way, have this advantage, that, being entirely independent of the context and condensed in little articles, they are not liable to your distinctions. I quoted the whole of the passage, in which "bankrupts are permitted to keep their goods, though unjustly acquired, to provide an honourable maintenance for their families"- commenting on which in my letters, I exclaim: "Indeed, father! by what strange kind of charity would you have the ill-gotten property of a bankrupt appropriated to his own use, instead of that of his lawful creditors?" This is the question which must be answered; but it is one that involves you in a sad dilemma, and from which you in vain seek to escape by altering the state of the question, and quoting other passages from Lessius, which have no connection with the subject. I ask you, then: May this maxim of Escobar be followed by bankrupts with a safe conscience, or no? And take care what you say. If you answer, "No," what becomes of your doctor, and your doctrine of probability? If you say, "Yes," I delate you to the Parliament. In this predicament I must now leave you, fathers; for my limits will not permit me to overtake your next accusation, which respects homicide. This will serve for my next letter, and the rest will follow. In the meanwhile, I shall make no remarks on the advertisements which you have tagged to the end of each of your charges, filled as they are with scandalous falsehoods. I mean to answer all these in a separate letter, in which I hope to show the weight due to your calumnies. I am sorry, fathers, that you should have recourse to such desperate resources. The abusive terms which you heap on me will not clear up our disputes, nor will your manifold threats hinder me from defending myself You think you have power and impunity on your side; and I think I have truth and innocence on mine. It is a strange and tedious war when violence attempts to vanquish truth. All the efforts of violence cannot weaken truth, and only serve to give it fresh vigour. All the lights of truth cannot arrest violence, and only serve to exasperate it. When force meets force, the weaker must succumb to the stronger; when argument is opposed to argument, the solid and the convincing triumphs over the empty and the false; but violence and verity can make no impression on each other. Let none suppose, however, that the two are, therefore, equal to each other; for there is this vast difference between them, that violence has only a certain course to run, limited by the appointment of Heaven, which overrules its effects to the glory of the truth which it assails; whereas verity endures forever and eventually triumphs over its enemies, being eternal and almighty as God himself.


September 30, 1656 REVEREND FATHERS, I have just seen your last production, in which you have continued your list of Impostures up to the twentieth and intimate that you mean to conclude with this the first part of your accusations against me, and to proceed to the second, in which you are to adopt a new mode of defence, by showing that there are other casuists besides those of your Society who are as lax as yourselves. I now see the precise number of charges to which I have to reply; and as the fourth, to which we have now come, relates to homicide, it may be proper, in answering it, to include the 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th, which refer to the same subject. In the present letter, therefore, my object shall be to vindicate the correctness of my quotations from the charges of falsity which you bring against me. But as you have ventured, in your pamphlets, to assert that "the sentiments of your authors on murder are agreeable to the decisions of popes and ecclesiastical laws," you will compel me, in my next letter, to confute a statement at once so unfounded and so injurious to the Church. It is of some importance to show that she is innocent of your corruptions, in order that heretics may be prevented from taking advantage of your aberrations, to draw conclusions tending to her dishonour. And thus, viewing on the one hand your pernicious maxims, and on the other the canons of the Church which have uniformly condemned them, people will see, at one glance, what they should shun and what they should follow. Your fourth charge turns on a maxim relating to murder, which you say I have falsely ascribed to Lessius. It is as follows: "That if a man has received a buffet, he may immediately pursue his enemy, and even return the blow with the sword, not to avenge himself, but to retrieve his honour." This, you say, is the opinion of the casuist Victoria. But this is nothing to the point. There is no inconsistency in saying that it is at once the opinion of Victoria and of Lessius; for Lessius himself says that it is also held by Navarre and Henriquez, who teach identically the same doctrine. The only question, then, is if Lessius holds this view as well as his brother casuists. You maintain "that Lessius quotes this opinion solely for the purpose of refuting it, and that I, therefore, attribute to him a sentiment which he produces only to overthrow- the basest and most disgraceful act of which a writer can be guilty." Now I maintain, fathers, that he quotes the opinion solely for the purpose of supporting it. Here is a question of fact, which it will be very easy to settle. Let us see, then, how you prove your allegation, and you will see afterwards how I prove mine. To show that Lessius is not of that opinion, you tell us that he condemns the practice of it; and in proof of this, you quote one passage of his (l. 2, c. 9, n. 92), in which he says, in so many words, "I condemn the practice of it." I grant that, on looking for these words, at number 92, to which you refer, they will be found there. But what will people say, fathers, when they discover, at the same time, that he is treating in that place of a question totally different from that of which we are speaking, and that the opinion of which he there says that he condemns the practice has no connection with that now in dispute, but is quite distinct? And yet to be convinced that this is the fact, we have only to open the book to which you refer, and there we find the whole subject in its connection as follows: At number 79 he treats the question, "If it is lawful to kill for a buffet?" and at number 80 he finishes this matter without a single word of condemnation. Having disposed of this question, he opens a new one at 81, namely, "If it is lawful to kill for slanders?" and it is when speaking of this question that he employs the words you have quoted: "I condemn the practice of it." Is it not shameful, fathers, that you should venture to produce these words to make it be believed that Lessius condemns the opinion that it is lawful to kill for a buffet? and that, on the ground of this single proof, you should chuckle over it, as you have done, by saying: "Many persons of honour in Paris have already discovered this notorious falsehood by consulting Lessius, and have thus ascertained the degree of credit due to that slanderer?" Indeed! and is it thus that you abuse the confidence which those persons of honour repose in you? To show them that Lessius does not hold a certain opinion, you open the book to them at a place where he is condemning another opinion; and these persons, not having begun to mistrust your good faith and never thinking of examining whether the author speaks in that place of the subject in dispute, you impose on their credulity. I make no doubt, fathers, that, to shelter yourselves from the guilt of such a scandalous lie, you had recourse to your doctrine of equivocations; and that, having read the passage in a loud voice, you would say, in a lower key, that the author was speaking there of something else. But I am not so sure whether this saving clause, which is quite enough to satisfy your consciences, will be a very satisfactory answer to the just complaint of those "honourable persons," when they shall discover that you have hoodwinked them in this style. Take care, then, fathers, to prevent them by all means from seeing my letters; for this is the only method now left to you to preserve your credit for a short time longer. This is not the way in which I deal with your writings: I send them to all my friends; I wish everybody to see them. And I verily believe that both of us are in the right for our own interests; for, after having published with such parade this fourth Imposture, were it once discovered that you have made it up by foisting in one passage for another, you would be instantly denounced. It will be easily seen that if you could have found what you wanted in the passage where Lessius treated of this matter, you would not have searched for it elsewhere, and that you had recourse to such a trick only because you could find nothing in that passage favourable to your purpose. You would have us believe that we may find in Lessius what you assert, "that he does not allow that this opinion (that a man may be lawfully killed for a buffet) is probable in theory"; whereas Lessius distinctly declares, at number 80: "This opinion, that a man may kill for a buffet, is probable in theory." Is not this, word for word, the reverse of your assertion? And can we sufficiently admire the hardihood with which you have advanced, in set phrase, the very reverse of a matter of fact! To your conclusion, from a fabricated passage, that Lessius was not of that opinion, we have only to place Lessius himself, who, in the genuine passage, declares that he is of that opinion. Again, you would have Lessius to say "that he condemns the practice of it"; and, as I have just observed, there is not in the original a single word of condemnation; all that he says is: "It appears that it ought not to be easily permitted in practice- In praxi non videtur facile permittenda." Is that, fathers, the language of a man who condemns a maxim? Would you say that adultery and incest ought not to be easily permitted in practice? Must we not, on the contrary, conclude that as Lessius says no more than that the practice ought not to be easily permitted, his opinion is that it may be permitted sometimes, though rarely? And, as if he had been anxious to apprise everybody when it might be permitted, and to relieve those who have received affronts from being troubled with unreasonable scruples from not knowing on what occasions they might lawfully kill in practice, he has been at pains to inform them what they ought to avoid in order to practise the doctrine with a safe conscience. Mark his words: "It seems," says he, "that it ought not to be easily permitted, because of the danger that persons may act in this matter out of hatred or revenge, or with excess, or that this may occasion too many murders." From this it appears that murder is freely permitted by Lessius, if one avoids the inconveniences referred to- in other words, if one can act without hatred or revenge and in circumstances that may not open the door to a great many murders. To illustrate the matter, I may give you an example of recent occurrence- the case of the buffet of Compiegne. You will grant that the person who received the blow on that occasion has shown, by the way in which he has acted, that he was sufficiently master of the passions of hatred and revenge. It only remained for him, therefore, to see that he did not give occasion to too many murders; and you need hardly be told, fathers, it is such a rare spectacle to find Jesuits bestowing buffets on the officers of the royal household that he had no great reason to fear that a murder committed on this occasion would be likely to draw many others in its train. You cannot, accordingly, deny that the Jesuit who figured on that occasion was killable with a safe conscience, and that the offended party might have converted him into a practical illustration of the doctrine of Lessius. And very likely, fathers, this might have been the result had he been educated in your school, and learnt from Escobar that the man who has received a buffet is held to be disgraced until he has taken the life of him who insulted him. But there is ground to believe that the very different instructions which he received from a curate, who is no great favourite of yours, have contributed not a little in this case to save the life of a Jesuit. Tell us no more, then, of inconveniences which may, in many instances, be so easily got over, and in the absence of which, according to Lessius, murder is permissible even in practice. This is frankly avowed by your authors, as quoted by Escobar, in his Practice of Homicide, according to your Society. "Is it allowable," asks this casuist, "to kill him who has given me a buffet? Lessius says it is permissible in speculation, though not to be followed in practice- non consulendum in praxi- on account of the risk of hatred, or of murders prejudicial to the State. Others, however, have judged that, by avoiding these inconveniences, this is permissible and safe in practice- in praxi probabilem et tutam judicarunt Henriquez," &c. See how your opinions mount up, by little and little, to the climax of probabilism! The present one you have at last elevated to this position, by permitting murder without any distinction between speculation and practice, in the following terms: "It is lawful, when one has received a buffet, to return the blow immediately with the sword, not to avenge one's self, but to preserve one's honour." Such is the decision of your fathers of Caen in 1644, embodied in their publications produced by the university before parliament, when they presented their third remonstrance against your doctrine of homicide, as shown in the book then emitted by them, on page 339. Mark, then, fathers, that your own authors have themselves demolished this absurd distinction between speculative and practical murder- a distinction which the university treated with ridicule, and the invention of which is a secret of your policy, which it may now be worth while to explain. The knowledge of it, besides being necessary to the right understanding of your 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th charges, is well calculated, in general, to open up, by little and little, the principles of that mysterious policy. In attempting, as you have done, to decide cases of conscience in the most agreeable and accommodating manner, while you met with some questions in which religion alone was concerned- such as those of contrition, penance, love to God, and others only affecting the inner court of conscience- you encountered another class of cases in which civil society was interested as well as religion- such as those relating to usury, bankruptcy, homicide, and the like. And it is truly distressing to all that love the Church to observe that, in a vast number of instances, in which you had only Religion to contend with, you have violated her laws without reservation, without distinction, and without compunction; because you knew that it is not here that God visibly administers his justice. But in those cases in which the State is interested as well as Religion, your apprehension of man's justice has induced you to divide your decisions into two shares. To the first of these you give the name of speculation; under which category crimes, considered in themselves, without regard to society, but merely to the law of God, you have permitted, without the least scruple, and in the way of trampling on the divine law which condemns them. The second you rank under the denomination of practice, and here, considering the injury which may be done to society, and the presence of magistrates who look after the public peace, you take care, in order to keep yourselves on the safe side of the law, not to approve always in practice the murders and other crimes which you have sanctioned in speculation. Thus, for example, on the question, "If it be lawful to kill for slanders?" your authors, Filiutius, Reginald, and others, reply: "This is permitted in speculation- ex probabile opinione licet; but is not to be approved in practice, on account of the great number of murders which might ensue, and which might injure the State, if all slanderers were to be killed, and also because one might be punished in a court of justice for having killed another for that matter." Such is the style in which your opinions begin to develop themselves, under the shelter of this distinction, in virtue of which, without doing any sensible injury to society, you only ruin religion. In acting thus, you consider yourselves quite safe. You suppose that, on the one hand, the influence you have in the Church will effectually shield from punishment your assaults on truth; and that, on the other, the precautions you have taken against too easily reducing your permissions to practice will save you on the part of the civil powers, who, not being judges in cases of conscience, are properly concerned only with the outward practice. Thus an opinion which would be condemned under the name of practice, comes out quite safe under the name of speculation. But this basis once established, it is not difficult to erect on it the rest of your maxims. There is an infinite distance between God's prohibition of murder and your speculative permission of the crime; but between that permission and the practice the distance is very small indeed. It only remains to show that what is allowable in speculation is also so in practice; and there can be no want of reasons for this. You have contrived to find them in far more difficult cases. Would you like to see, fathers, how this may be managed? I refer you to the reasoning of Escobar, who has distinctly decided the point in the first six volumes of his grand Moral Theology, of which I have already spoken- a work in which he shows quite another spirit from that which appears in his former compilation from your four-and-twenty elders. At that time he thought that there might be opinions probable in speculation, which might not be safe in practice; but he has now come to form an opposite judgment, and has, in this, his latest work, confirmed it. Such is the wonderful growth attained by the doctrine of probability in general, as well as by every probable opinion in particular, in the course of time. Attend, then, to what he says: "I cannot see how it can be that an action which seems allowable in speculation should not be so likewise in practice; because what may be done in practice depends on what is found to be lawful in speculation, and the things differ from each other only as cause and effect. Speculation is that which determines to action. Whence it follows that opinions probable in speculation may be followed with a safe conscience in practice, and that even with more safety than those which have not been so well examined as matters of speculation." Verily, fathers, your friend Escobar reasons uncommonly well sometimes; and, in point of fact, there is such a close connection between speculation and practice, that when the former has once taken root, you have no difficulty in permitting the latter, without any disguise. A good illustration of this we have in the permission "to kill for a buffet," which, from being a point of simple speculation, was boldly raised by Lessius into a practice "which ought not easily to be allowed"; from that promoted by Escobar to the character of "an easy practice"; and from thence elevated by your fathers of Caen, as we have seen, without any distinction between theory and practice, into a full permission. Thus you bring your opinions to their full growth very gradually. Were they presented all at once in their finished extravagance, they would beget horror; but this slow imperceptible progress gradually habituates men to the sight of them and hides their offensiveness. And in this way the permission to murder, in itself so odious both to Church and State, creeps first into the Church, and then from the Church into the State. A similar success has attended the opinion of "killing for slander," which has now reached the climax of a permission without any distinction. I should not have stopped to quote my authorities on this point from your writings, had it not been necessary in order to put down the effrontery with which you have asserted, twice over, in your fifteenth Imposture, "that there never was a Jesuit who permitted killing for slander." Before making this statement, fathers, you should have taken care to prevent it from coming under my notice, seeing that it is so easy for me to answer it. For, not to mention that your fathers Reginald, Filiutius, and others, have permitted it in speculation, as I have already shown, and that the principle laid down by Escobar leads us safely on to the practice, I have to tell you that you have authors who have permitted it in so many words, and among others Father Hereau in his public lectures, on the conclusion of which the king put him under arrest in your house, for having taught, among other errors, that when a person who has slandered us in the presence of men of honour, continues to do so after being warned to desist, it is allowable to kill him, not publicly, indeed, for fear of scandal, but in a private way- sed clam. I have had occasion already to mention Father Lamy, and you do not need to be informed that his doctrine on this subject was censured in 1649 by the University of Louvain. And yet two months have not elapsed since your Father Des Bois maintained this very censured doctrine of Father Lamy and taught that "it was allowable for a monk to defend the honour which he acquired by his virtue, even by killing the person who assails his reputation- etiam cum morte invasoris"; which has raised such a scandal in that town that the whole of the cures united to impose silence on him, and to oblige him, by a canonical process, to retract his doctrine. The case is now pending in the Episcopal court. What say you now, fathers? Why attempt, after that, to maintain that "no Jesuit ever held that it was lawful to kill for slander?" Is anything more necessary to convince you of this than the very opinions of your fathers which you quote, since they do not condemn murder in speculation, but only in practice, and that, too, "on account of the injury that might thereby accrue to the State"? And here I would just beg to ask whether the whole matter in dispute between us is not simply and solely to ascertain if you have or have not subverted the law of God which condemns murder? The point in question is, not whether you have injured the commonwealth, but whether you have injured religion. What purpose, then, can it serve, in a dispute of this kind, to show that you have spared the State, when you make it apparent, at the same time, that you have destroyed the faith? Is this not evident from your saying that the meaning of Reginald, on the question of killing for slanders, is, "that a private individual has a right to employ that mode of defence, viewing it simply in itself"? I desire nothing beyond this concession to confute you. "A private individual," you say, "has a right to employ that mode of defence" (that is, killing for slanders), "viewing the thing in itself'; and, consequently, fathers, the law of God, which forbids us to kill, is nullified by that decision. It serves no purpose to add, as you have done, "that such a mode is unlawful and criminal, even according to the law of God, on account of the murders and disorders which would follow in society, because the law of God obliges us to have regard to the good of society." This is to evade the question: for there are two laws to be observed- one forbidding us to kill, and another forbidding us to harm society. Reginald has not, perhaps, broken the law which forbids us to do harm to society; but he has most certainly violated that which forbids us to kill. Now this is the only point with which we have to do. I might have shown, besides, that your other writers, who have permitted these murders in practice, have subverted the one law as well as the other. But, to proceed, we have seen that you sometimes forbid doing harm to the State; and you allege that your design in that is to fulfil the law of God, which obliges us to consult the interests of society. That may be true, though it is far from being certain, as you might do the same thing purely from fear of the civil magistrate. With your permission, then, we shall scrutinize the real secret of this movement. Is it not certain, fathers, that if you had really any regard to God, and if the observance of his law had been the prime and principal object in your thoughts, this respect would have invariably predominated in all your leading decisions and would have engaged you at all times on the side of religion? But, if it turns out, on the contrary, that you violate, in innumerable instances, the most sacred commands that God has laid upon men, and that, as in the instances before us, you annihilate the law of God, which forbids these actions as criminal in themselves, and that you only scruple to approve of them in practice, from bodily fear of the civil magistrate, do you not afford us ground to conclude that you have no respect to God in your apprehensions, and that if you yield an apparent obedience to his law, in so far as regards the obligation to do no harm to the State, this is not done out of any regard to the law itself, but to compass your own ends, as has ever been the way with politicians of no religion? What, fathers! will you tell us that, looking simply to the law of God, which says, "Thou shalt not kill," we have a right to kill for slanders? And after having thus trampled on the eternal law of God, do you imagine that you atone for the scandal you have caused, and can persuade us of your reverence for Him, by adding that you prohibit the practice for State reasons and from dread of the civil arm? Is not this, on the contrary, to raise a fresh scandal? I mean not by the respect which you testify for the magistrate; that is not my charge against you, and it is ridiculous in you to banter, as you have done, on this matter. I blame you, not for fearing the magistrate, but for fearing none but the magistrate. And I blame you for this, because it is making God less the enemy of vice than man. Had you said that to kill for slander was allowable according to men, but not according to God, that might have been something more endurable; but when you maintain that what is too criminal to be tolerated among men may yet be innocent and right in the eyes of that Being who is righteousness itself, what is this but to declare before the whole world, by a subversion of principle as shocking in itself as it is alien to the spirit of the saints, that while you can be braggarts before God, you are cowards before men? Had you really been anxious to condemn these homicides, you would have allowed the commandment of God which forbids them to remain intact; and had you dared at once to permit them, you would have permitted them openly, in spite of the laws of God and men. But, your object being to permit them imperceptibly, and to cheat the magistrate, who watches over the public safety, you have gone craftily to work. You separate your maxims into two portions. On the one side, you hold out "that it is lawful in speculation to kill a man for slander"; and nobody thinks of hindering you from taking a speculative view of matters. On the other side, you come out with this detached axiom, "that what is permitted in speculation is also permissible in practice"; and what concern does society seem to have in this general and metaphysical-looking proposition? And thus these two principles, so little suspected, being embraced in their separate form, the vigilance of the magistrate is eluded; while it is only necessary to combine the two together to draw from them the conclusion which you aim at- namely, that it is lawful in practice to put a man to death for a simple slander. It is, indeed, fathers, one of the most subtle tricks of your policy to scatter through your publications the maxims which you club together in your decisions. It is partly in this way that you establish your doctrine of probabilities, which I have frequently had occasion to explain. That general principle once established, you advance propositions harmless enough when viewed apart, but which, when taken in connection with that pernicious dogma, become positively horrible. An example of this, which demands an answer, may be found in the 11th page of your Impostures, where you allege that "several famous theologians have decided that it is lawful to kill a man for a box on the ear." Now, it is certain that, if that had been said by a person who did not hold probabilism, there would be nothing to find fault with in it; it would in this case amount to no more than a harmless statement, and nothing could be elicited from it. But you, fathers, and all who hold that dangerous tenet, "that whatever has been approved by celebrated authors is probable and safe in conscience," when you add to this "that several celebrated authors are of opinion that it is lawful to kill a man for a box on the ear," what is this but to put a dagger into the hand of all Christians, for the purpose of plunging it into the heart of the first person that insults them, and to assure them that, having the judgement of so many grave authors on their side, they may do so with a perfectly safe conscience? What monstrous species of language is this, which, in announcing that certain authors hold a detestable opinion, is at the same time giving a decision in favour of that opinion- which solemnly teaches whatever it simply tells! We have learnt, fathers, to understand this peculiar dialect of the Jesuitical school; and it is astonishing that you have the hardihood to speak it out so freely, for it betrays your sentiments somewhat too broadly. It convicts you of permitting murder for a buffet, as often as you repeat that many celebrated authors have maintained that opinion. This charge, fathers, you will never be able to repel; nor will you be much helped out by those passages from Vasquez and Suarez that you adduce against me, in which they condemn the murders which their associates have approved. These testimonies, disjoined from the rest of your doctrine, may hoodwink those who know little about it; but we, who know better, put your principles and maxims together. You say, then, that Vasquez condemns murders; but what say you on the other side of the question, my reverend fathers? Why, "that the probability of one sentiment does not hinder the probability of the opposite sentiment; and that it is warrantable to follow the less probable and less safe opinion, giving up the more probable and more safe one." What follows from all this taken in connection, but that we have perfect freedom of conscience to adopt any one of these conflicting judgements which pleases us best? And what becomes of all the effect which you fondly anticipate from your quotations? It evaporates in smoke, for we have no more to do than to conjoin for your condemnation the maxims which you have disjoined for your exculpation. Why, then, produce those passages of your authors which I have not quoted, to qualify those which I have quoted, as if the one could excuse the other? What right does that give you to call me an "impostor"? Have I said that all your fathers are implicated in the same corruptions? Have I not, on the contrary, been at pains to show that your interest lay in having them of all different minds, in order to suit all your purposes? Do you wish to kill your man?- here is Lessius for you. Are you inclined to spare him?- here is Vasquez. Nobody need go away in ill humour- nobody without the authority of a grave doctor. Lessius will talk to you like a Heathen on homicide, and like a Christian, it may be, on charity. Vasquez, again, will descant like a Heathen on charity, and like a Christian on homicide. But by means of probabilism, which is held both by Vasquez and Lessius, and which renders all your opinions common property, they will lend their opinions to one another, and each will be held bound to absolve those who have acted according to opinions which each of them has condemned. It is this very variety, then, that confounds you. Uniformity, even in evil, would be better than this. Nothing is more contrary to the orders of St. Ignatius and the first generals of your Society than this confused medley of all sorts of opinions, good and bad. I may, perhaps, enter on this topic at some future period; and it will astonish many to see how far you have degenerated from the original spirit of your institution, and that your own generals have foreseen that the corruption of your doctrine on morals might prove fatal, not only to your Society, but to the Church universal. Meanwhile, I repeat that you can derive no advantage from the doctrine of Vasquez. It would be strange, indeed, if, out of all the that have written on morals, one or two could not be found who may have hit upon a truth which has been confessed by all Christians. There is no glory in maintaining the truth, according to the Gospel, that it is unlawful to kill a man for smiting us on the face; but it is foul shame to deny it. So far, indeed, from justifying you, nothing tells more fatally against you than the fact that, having doctors among you who have told you the truth, you abide not in the truth, but love the darkness rather than the light. You have been taught by Vasquez that it is a Heathen, and not a Christian, opinion to hold that we may knock down a man for a blow on the cheek; and that it is subversive both of the Gospel and of the Decalogue to say that we may kill for such a matter. The most profligate of men will acknowledge as much. And yet you have allowed Lessius, Escobar, and others, to decide, in the face of these well-known truths, and in spite of all the laws of God against manslaughter, that it is quite allowable to kill a man for a buffet! What purpose, then, can it serve to set this passage of Vasquez over against the sentiment of Lessius, unless you mean to show that, in the opinion of Vasquez, Lessius is a "Heathen" and a "profligate"? and that, fathers, is more than I durst have said myself. What else can be deduced from it than that Lessius "subverts both the Gospel and the Decalogue"; that, at the last day, Vasquez will condemn Lessius on this point, as Lessius will condemn Vasquez on another; and that all your fathers will rise up in judgement one against another, mutually condemning each other for their sad outrages on the law of Jesus Christ? To this conclusion, then, reverend fathers, must we come at length, that, as your probabilism renders the good opinions of some of your authors useless to the Church, and useful only to your policy, they merely serve to betray, by their contrariety, the duplicity of your hearts. This you have completely unfolded, by telling us, on the one hand, that Vasquez and Suarez are against homicide, and on the other hand, that many celebrated authors are for homicide; thus presenting two roads to our choice and destroying the simplicity of the Spirit of God, who denounces his anathema on the deceitful and the double-hearted: "Voe duplici corde, et ingredienti duabus viis!- Woe be to the double hearts, and the sinner that goeth two ways!"