5 - 7 minutes readPreface

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Edmund Campion, to the Learned Members of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Greeting.

Last year, Gentlemen, when in accordance with my calling in life I returned under orders to this Island, I found on the shore of England not a little wilder waves than those I had recently left behind the in the British Seas. As thereupon I made my way into the interior of England, I had no more familiar sight than that of unusual executions, no greater certainty than the uncertainty of threatening dangers. I gathered my wits together as best I could, remembering the cause which I was serving and the times in which I lived. And lest I might perhaps be arrested before I had got a hearing from any one, I at once put my purpose in writing, stating who I was, what was my errand, what war I thought of declaring and upon whom. I kept the original document on my person, that it might be taken with me, if I were taken. I deposited a copy with a friend, and this copy, without my knowledge, was shown to many. Adversaries took very ill the publication of the paper. What they particularly disliked and blamed was my having offered to hold the field alone against all comers in this matter of religion, though to be sure I should not have been alone had I disputed under a public safe conduct. Hanmer and Chartres have replied to my demands. What is the tenour of their reply? All off the point. The only honest answer for them to give is one they will never give: “We embrace the conditions, the Queen pledges her word, come at once.” Meanwhile they fill the air with their cries: “Your conspiracy! your seditious proceedings! your arrogance! traitor! aye marry, traitor!” The whole thing is absurd. These men are not fools: why are they wasting their pains and damaging their own reputation? Nevertheless, in reply to these two gentlemen (one of whom has chosen my paper to run at for his amusement, the other more maliciously has confused the whole issue) there has recently been presented a very clear memorial setting forth all that need be said about our Society and their calumnies and the part that we are taking. The only course left open to me (since as I see, it is tortures, not academic disputations, that the high-priests are making ready) was to make good to you the account of my conduct; to show you the chief heads and point my finger to the sources from whence I derive this confidence; to exhort you also, as it is your concern above others, to give to this business that attention which Christ, the Church, the Common Weal, and your own salvation demand of you. If it were confidence in my own talents, erudition, art, reading, memory, that led me to challenge all the skill that could be brought against me, then were I the vainest and proudest of mortals, not having considered either myself or my opponents. But if, with my cause before my eyes, I thought myself competent to show that the sun here shines at noon-day, you ought to allow in me that heat which the honour of Jesus Christ, my King, and the unconquered force of truth have put upon me. You know how in Marcus Tullius’s speech for Publius Quintius, when Roscius promised that he should win the case if he could make out by arguments that a journey of 700 miles had not been accomplished in two days, Cicero not only had no fear of all the force of the pleading of the opposing counsel, Hortensius, but could not have been afraid even of greater orators than Hortensius, men of the stamp of Cotta and Antonius and Crassus, whose reputation for speaking he set higher than that of all other men: for truth does sometimes stand out in so clear a light that no artifice of word or deed can hide it. Now the case on our side is clearer even than that position of Roscius. I have only to evince this, that there is a Heaven, that there is a God, that there is a Faith, that there is a Christ, and I have gained my cause. Standing on such ground should I not pluck up heart? I may be killed, beaten I cannot be. I take my stand on those Doctors, whom that Spirit has instructed who is neither deceived nor overcome. I beg of you, consent to be saved. Of those from whom I obtain this consent I expect without the least doubt that all the rest will follow. Only give yourselves up to take interest in this inquiry, entreat Christ, add efforts of your own, and certainly you will perceive how the case lies, how our adversaries are in despair, and ourselves so solidly founded that we cannot but desire this conflict with serene and high courage. I am brief here, because I address you in the rest of my discourse. Farewell.



Anno praeterito, quum ex instituto vitae meae iussus in hanc insulam remeassem, clarissimi viri, offendi sane fluctus haud paulo saeviores in anglicano littore, quam quos in oceano brittannico recens a tergo reliqueram. Mox interiorem in Angliam ubi penetrassem, nihil familiarius, quam inusitata supplicia; nihil certius, quam incerta pericula. Collegi me, ut potui, memor causae, memor temporum. Ac ne prius forte corriperer, quam auditus a quopiam fuissem, scripto protinus mandavi consileum meum, qui venissem, quid quaererem, quod bellum, et quibus, indicere cogitarem Autographum apud me habui, ut mecum, si caperer, caperetur; exemplum eius apud amicum deposui, quod, me quidem nesciente, pluribus communicatum est. Adversarii publicatam schedulam atrociter acceperunt quum caetera, tum illud invidiosissime criminantes, quod unus omnibus in hoc religionis negotio certamen obtulissem; quamquam solus non eram futurus, si fide publica disputassem. Responderunt postulatis meis Hammerus et Charcus. Quid tandem? Otiose omnia. Nullum enim responsum, praeter unum, honeste dabunt, quod numquam dabunt: “Conditiones amplectimur, Regina spondet, advola.” Interea clamant isti: “Sodalitium tuum, seditiones tuas, arrogantiam tuam, proditorem, sine dubio proditorem.” Ridicule. Operam et oleum et famam homines non insipientissimi cur profundunt?

Verum his duobus, (quorum prior animi causa meam chartam delegit, in quam incurrerat; alter malitiosius totam rem convolvit), praebitus nuper est libellus admodum luculentus, qui quantum oportuit, tantum et de Societate nostra, et de horum iniuriis, et de provincia, quam sustinemus, edisserit. Mihi supererat, (quoniam, ut video, tormenta, non scholas, parant antistites), rationem facti mei vobis ut probarem; capita rerum, quae mihi tantum fidentiae pepererunt, quasi digito fontes ostenderem. Vos etiam hortarer, quorum interest praeter caeteros, incumbatis in hanc curam, quam a vobis Christus, Ecclesia, respublica et vestra salus exigunt. Ego si fretus ingenio, litteris, arte, lectione, memoria, peritissimum quemque adversarium provocavi fui vanissimus et superbissimus, qui neque me, necque illos inspexerim; sin causam intuitus, existimavi satis me valentem esse, qui docerem hunc solem meridie lucere, debetis mihi fervorem istum concedere, quem honor Iesu Christi, Regis mei, et invicta veritas imperarunt. Scitis M. Tullium in Quintiana, quum Roscius victoriam adpromitteret, si efficeret argumentis, septingenta millia passuum non esse decursa biduo, non modo nihil veritum articulos et nervos Hortensii, sed ne grandiores quidem Hortensio, Phillipos, et Cottas, et Antonios, et Crassos, quibus maximam dicendi gloriam tribuebat, metuere potuisse. Est enim quaedam veritas tam illustris et perspicua, ut eam nullae verborum rerumque praestigiae possint obruere. Porro liquidius est quod nos agimus, quam illa fuit hypothesis Rosciana. Nam si hoe praestitero: coelos esse, divos esse, fidem esse, Christum esse, causam obtinui. Hic ego non sim animosus? Equidem occidi possum, superari non possum, iis enim Doctoribus insisto, quos ille Spiritus erudiit, qui nec fallitur, nec vincitur.

Quaeso a vobis ut salvi esse velitis. A quibus hoc impetraro, reliqua minime dubitanter expecto. Date modo vos huic sollicitudini, Christum obtestamini, industriam adiungite; profecto sentietis id, quod res est, et adversarios desperare, et nos, tam solide fundatos, quieto magnoque animo hanc arenam expetere oportere. Brevior hic sum, quod reliquo sermone vos alloquor. Valete.


Ego dabo vobis os et sapientiam, cui non poterunt resistere et contradicere omnes adversarii vestri. Luc. xxi. 15.

Rationum capita.

1. Sacrae Litterae.

2. Sacrarum Litterarum sententia.

3. Natura Ecclesiae.

4. Concilia.

5. Patres.

6. Fermamenta Patrum.

7. Historia.

8. Paradoxa.

9. Sophismata.

10. Omne genus testium.