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been in a condition sufficiently abject to create this kind of abhorrence. But as the Moorish slaves became numerous, and neither Jews nor Mahometans were hallowed by the Christian ceremony of baptism, the Spaniards soon made no distinction between them. The notion of purity of blood, which had taken but a slight hold on the public mind in the early ages of the monarchy, grew into the most rooted of the national prejudices. The appellation of honourable (honrado) to which the purity of descent entitles a Spaniard, even in the humblest condition of life, and which, though usually coupled with the qualification of honest (hombre de bien), is reckoned far above this praise, created a species of gentry among the lower classes. The poorest peasant grew prouder of his genuine and unpolluted Christian blood than the grandees of their pompous titles. Both the peasantry and the middle ranks were, in fact, the more attached to this imaginary distinction, because the highest nobles and even their monarchs, allured by the rich portions of some beautiful miscreants, had not unfrequently entailed on their posterity the Spanish reproach of having some among their ancestors who stood on their legs for baptism.*
Let it not be supposed that we allude to notions and opinions now become obsolete. A manuscript pamphlet has been, we cannot tell how long, circulated in Spain, tracing up many of the grandees to some infidel ancestor, which, from the disgrace this is supposed to cast upon the first class of the nation, bears the title of the Brand of Spain (El Tizon de Espana). The attempt, by these means, to degrade the Spanish nobility was so far from being considered as absurd and inefficient, that both the government and the Inquisition exerted their utmost power to suppress the work. During a long intercourse with Spaniards, and notwithstanding their frequent reference to the manuscript in question, we never met with more than one copy; so cautiously was it kept, and such were the exertions employed to prevent its circulation. Honour and disgrace are, indeed, the creatures of opinion, and no power on earth can distribute the one or the other against the will of a national majority. The most outrageous liberal of the present day would fain escape the discovery of any mixed blood in his veins. The cortes of Cadiz denied the rights of citizenship to such of the native Spaniards as are known to descend from Africans or Indians.-f
* Bautizado en pic, means a person who lias received adult baptism. It is applied, not without a certain notion of degradation, even to Protestants, who, upon embracing Catholicism, are generally obliged to submit to a conditional baptism, lest that which is administered by a heretic should be invalidated by some irregularity in the performance.
.f* This class of Spaniards have always been comprehended in the common description of Mala Sangre (bad blood) upon the same principle as the Jews and the Moors; namely, their descent from ancestors who were not Christian, or were converted at a later period than the first preaching of Christianity.
The original Inquisition, whose powers were confided to the Dominicans for the destruction of the Albigenses in France, and in the kingdom of Aragon, and which from those countries pener trated into Castile about the middle of the thirteenth century, found the enemies of Christianity and those of the country perfectly identified in the public opinion of that kingdom. By a reciprocity of ideas, extremely natural in a rude military people, the religious abhorrence, which national animosity had directed against the Moors, iuvolved all who, like them, were branded as enemies of Christianity. The distinction between a heretic and a Mahometan is still too nice for most Spaniards, especially of the interior provinces. The church condemned them both; and it was every faithful Christian's part to hold them in equal detestation. The inquisitors themselves made no distinction between the relapsed Mahometan convert, the Jew who secretly practised the ceremonies of the law, and the Christian reformer, who, with the Gospel in his hand, protested against the innovations of the church of Rome. All were bound to the same stake, and perished by the same fire. Their names were crowded together in the public inscription, which carried the memory of the sufferers with shame to posterity. Their children and their children's children were as indiscriminately thrown into a degraded cast, which could never recover from infamy.* Religious zeal had never possessed weapons like these. The importance which persecution gives its victims had often defeated its efforts; and the honour which firm endurance extorts for all martyrs blunted the keenness of the tortures and baffled the cruelty of the zealot. Not so with the Inquisition of Spain. Her censures had, at once, the power to class the learned and sincere Christian, who loved the Gospel in its original purity, under the same predicament as the Moor and the Jew who rejected it; and to devote him to the execration and contempt of his country. Where is then the bold spirit of inquiry, the ardent love of truth, that could induce a Castillian, possessed of a bright inheritance of honour purchased by the blood of his ancestors in unceasing warfare against the Saracens, to swerve from the religion for which those ancestors had bled, and sink thereby with his whole posterity among the remnants of those execrated miscreants? Where shall we find that detestation of error, that intellectual chastity, which, soaring above the Roman heroine, shall not be induced to prostitute itself to the ravisher, rather than be found murdered on the same couch with a slave?
• To strengthen the coupling of disgrace with dissent from the church, or, more pro
the Inquisition, and such as were convicted appeared in the autos-da-f6 with Jews, Mahometans and heretics.
unnatural crimes were made cognizable by
So strong, however, was the impulse which the human mind received throughout Europe, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, that the increased terrors of the inquisition, then reorganized into the most ingenious and efficient system of persecution ever devised by man, could not prevent its being felt in Spain. An account of the bold but ill-fated attempt of some learned and pious Spaniards to rescue the Peninsula from the religious thraldom to which she owes her subsequent degradation and present misfortunes, will, we trust, be found not uninteresting in this place.
The dawn of real knowledge, which, upon the revival of literature, penetrated into Spain, though feeble when compared with the glorious day which broke out in Italy, gave still an early and fair promise of increase. The light, however, was no sooner perceived, than the powerful body of men, whose exclusive possession of the honours and influence of learning was founded on the superstitious ignorance of the people, directed the peculiar prejudices of the nation against the threatening progress of the human mind in their country. The multiplication of books, by means of the press, increased their vigilance against these mortal enemies of priestly repose. The destruction of literary works had begun some time before the invention of printing. The illiterate Spaniards looked with peculiar pleasure on the repeated burnings of Hebrew and Arabic manuscripts, the languages of two detested nations, while the clergy rejoiced in the extirpation of such works, Greek, Latin, or Castillian, as implied the existence of any real science besides school divinity. The library of Henry of Aragon, Marquis of Villena, a nobleman connected with the reigning family, was burnt in 1434, as containing the sources of that kind of knowledge which exposed its owner to the imputation of magic. In 1490, many thousands of Hebrew bibles, and no less a number of books of the same sort as perished in the flames on the death of Villena, were destroyed under a similar charge of necromancy. Thus the dangers and difficulties of the aspiring minds who, impelled by the improving spirit of the times, wished to devote themselves to the discovery of truth, free from the fetters of the established systems, increased daily with the fears of the church. The activity o.f the native genius could not, however, be completely restrained. The study of the learned languages became the favourite pursuit of some eminent men among the clergy. Cardinal Ximenez, little suspecting the consequences, declared himself the patron of biblical criticism, and had the honour of publishing the first Polyglot Bible. But the search of the scriptures in the original tongues did not fail to'raise the same doubts among the Spaniards which it had produced among the learned of other countries; and the seeds of the Reformation were actually, though sparingly, lodged in the bosom
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of Spain, by means analogous to those which prepared the abundant harvest reaped soon after in the north of Europe,
There is something so singular in the events, which brought these seeds into activity, that, had the attempt been successful, the Spanish Protestants might have boasted of an almost miraculous interference in the establishment of their church.
Although, from a Papal bull of the year 1526, authorizing the superiors of the Franciscan friars to absolve privately such members of their order as should accuse themselves of heresy, Llorente conjectures that Protestant principles had been embraced among the Mendicants, the historical facts which that industrious writer has collected in his most valuable, but ill digested history of the Inquisition, fully convince us, that the German reformation made its first active and sincere proselytes at Seville. The original, and chief promoter of this mental emancipation, was neither a man of learning, nor a member of the clergy.
Rodrigo de Valer,* a native of Lebrixa, an ancient town about thirty miles from Seville, had spent his youth in the idle and dissipated manner which has long prevailed among the Spanish gentry. A slight knowledge of Latin was the only benefit he derived from his early instructors; the love of horses, dress and women engrossed his whole mind, as soon as he was free from their authority. Seville, then at the height of its splendour, was his favourite residence, and he shone there among the young men of family and wealth for his gallantry, and decided prominence in the ranks of fashion. Valer was, however, suddenly missed in the gay scenes which he used formerly to enliven; yet hi3 fortune had received no check, and his health was not known to be impaired. A strange change had been effected in his mind; the gay and volatile Valer was now confined the whole day to his room with a Latin Bible, the only version allowed in Spain. Had he unexpectedly taken a religious turn, and abandoned the alluring walks of pleasure for the church and the confessional, such revulsions of feeling are too common among the Spaniards to have raised a general surprise. But this absolute retirement, this neglect of devotional works, and pious practices, for a book which even professional divines seldom took the trouble to examine, had something peculiar, and not easily accounted for. After continuing for several months in his scriptural studies, Valer was observed to court the friendship of the clergy. One of the most eminent of those
* So he is called by Cypriano de Valera, a Sevillian priest, wlio fled from the persecution which we shall presently describe. The Spanish work on the Pope and the Mass, which, without a name, he published in London, in 1588, now lies before us. Llorente calls the Spanish apostle of the Reformation, Valero; we prefer the authority of hit contemporary.
for for learning and exemplary conduct, was Doctor John Gil or Egidius, canon magistral (preacher) of the cathedral of Seville, a dignity which, though usually obtained by a public trial, Egidius had received, without this previous step, by the unanimous nomination of the archbishop and chapter, as a testimony of superiority above his contemporaries. The learned canon had, hitherto, been more admired as a profound theologian, than as a powerful orator; but, since his intimacy with Valer, his preaching had assumed a different character. Instead of vapid dissertations, his sermons were the earnest and powerful addresses of his feelings and conviction to the hearts and understandings of his audience. Egidius became the most popular preacher at Seville.
No obnoxious doctrines had hitherto been broached by the pious canon. That the change, which had gained him such extraordinary •popularity, was the work of Valer, could not even be suspected by those who were well aware of the immense distance, at which the layman was placed from his friend's learning and talents. Such was, nevertheless, the fact. Valer had, during his retirement, learnt by heart a great part of the scriptures, and drawn from that source, a system of divinity, which seems to have agreed, in the main, with that of the northern reformers. Whether a simple report of Luther's opinions, and of his appealing to the scriptures as the only source of religious truth, had given the same direction to the inquiries of the Spaniard; or whether, in the state of men's minds at that period, and, from the prominence of the abuses which fixed the attention of the inquisitive, similar inferences offered themselves to all who impartially consulted the scriptures, we shall not take upon ourselves to decide. But it is a fact, that ValeV required no other guide to lay the foundations of a church at Seville, which was found to be Lutheran in its principal tenets.
No slighter impulse than that of an ardent love of religious truth would have been sufficient to engage any man in the desperate undertaking of propagating Protestant doctrines, under the watchful eye of the Inquisition; now doubly alert from the animosity which their sovereign Charles V was showing against the Lutherans in Germany. But no danger could appal the enthusiastic Valer. Regardless of his personal safety, or, what is still dearer to a man who has enjoyed the respect of his fellows, his character for judgment and sanity of intellect, he appeared at the most frequented places, addressing all that would stop to hear him, upon the necessity of studying the scriptures, and making them the only rule of faith and conduct. The suspicions of derangement, which had been afloat since the period of his retirement, were now fully confirmed, and saved Valer, for a time, from the
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