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“You will be justified in doing so," added closer together; and although neither the poet Digby, with a strange smile. “Where Virgil nor Alice had hitherto lent words to their feellived, Horace wrote, and Cicero spoke and ings, they were nevertheless sure of their thought, inspiration cannot be wanting to the mutual happiness. poet. The great library of the Vatican will However, the parting hour struck at last. open to you its intellectual treasures, its books Milton and his friend could no longer stay at and rare manuscripts. You will find there Ludlow Castle and enjoy the generous hoscombined, at one point, all that human genius pitality which was offered to them there. The created for ages past, an arsenal of knowledge, grief of their separation, however, was lessened a treasury of the noblest kind, such as is not by the hope that they would soon meet again. to be found anywhere else in the world. But The poet had to promise the countess once the classical spirit does not alone lie dead in more that he would return with his work in a those books, it still lives in that wonderful | few days, make the necessary arrangements country; and you will become acquainted there for the mask, and conduct the performance with many men possessed of extraordinary himself. Alice held out to him her hand, knowledge, and animated by the most refined which he pressed respectfully to his lips. humanity. Italy is, as heretofore, the dwell “We shall soon meet again!” she whispered ing-place of genius, the fatherland of the poets, to the poet. and her great men are still the teachers of the “We shall soon meet again !” he repeated, whole world.”
thoughtfully. Digby spoke to Milton in this enthusiastic strain, and fanned in his bosom the wish, which he had entertained for a long time, to visit
CHAPTER XII. Italy, until it became a devouring flame. He had already often thought of visiting the classical country. At that time young men were sent DIGBY stayed at the castle several days after thither to finish their education, as afterward the friends bad left. The presence of this to France and Paris. Rome and Florence gifted and interesting man was more or less were still considered the high-schools of the welcome to all its inmates ; especially was the mind, and no cavalier was looked upon as a countess delighted with his attractive confinished gentleman unless he had lived there versation. The attention which he devoted to for some time. Milton's father was fully con- Alice filled her maternal heart with pride, and vinced of the necessity of such a journey for not with uneasiness. She seemed to second his gifted son, and had long since given him 'secretly his aim, which became more evident permission to enter upon it; only no time had from day to day, to obtain the hand of her as yet been fixed for it, and several domestic | daughter. A great many ladies manifest a events had compelled the son to postpone the surprising indulgence on such occasions. project. Digby's descriptions reawakened the Neither the by no means unblemished reputaold plan, which nothing but his growing love tion of the suitor nor his mature age injured for Alice prevented him now from carrying into him in the eyes of the mother, whom he maneffect. His affection for her had made decided aged to gain by his refined manners and the progress during the few days which he had advantages of his position. The other mempassed at Ludlow Castle. Since that meeting bers of the family were also favorable to him. in the garden, every hour had drawn them | The impressible Thomas especially felt at
CATHOLIC PLANS AND PROGRESS.
tracted by the fascinations of the distinguished , law which forbids every foreign Catholic priest cavalier and polished courtier. The youth under severe penalties to set foot on British listened rapturously to his enticing descrip- soil.” tions of the brilliant life of the aristocracy “And yet you ventured to come hither ? " in London and at the court of Charles I. “This will show you the importance of the Alice alone did not share the general predilec- mission intrusted to me.
I count upon you, tion; and although she was unable to keep as I am aware of your zeal for the good cause. entirely aloof from the charm of his conversa- Hence, I did not shrink from coming to Ludtion, she felt near him an embarrassment and low Castle before repairing to London ; anxiety which she could not explain to herself. desirous of making sure of your assistance. Digby, however, did not allow himself to be I am the bearer of a letter, written to you by deterred by her reserved bearing, and con our holy general, the Rev. Father Vitelleschi, tinued his courtship in so delicate and discreet and I bring you also the most cordial greetings a manner that she was unable to reject it and warm recommendations from the superiors without treating him with downright rudeness. and rectors of our order. At the same time
Thus the astute guest wove his net insen- permit me to introduce to you here my assistsibly round the whole house-a net-work of ant and substitute, our worthy brother, Signor schemes and purposes of various kinds. He Con. I myself intend to stay but a short time observed here likewise the mysterious attitude in England, as I must soon return to Rome.” which had become peculiar to him. At times “Holy Virgin!” exclaimed Digby, after he locked himself for hours in his room to reading the letter attentively, “the plan is write long letters to persons in different parts bold, and does honor to him who conceived it. of the world. These letters were written in a I have no doubt of its success, and will help cipher which no uninitiated person was able you to carry it into effect to the best of my to read. A discreet servant forwarded them, feeble power. You know that the Church has and was almost incessantly on the road for no more faithful servant than me. Oh, how I this purpose. From time to time there arrived hate this Reformation, which caused my fastrangers who inquired for the guest, and ther's death and made me a beggar! I shall be with whom he had interviews to which no one willing to die on the day when all England else was admitted.
forswears its false creed and returns into the One day two gentlemen were announced to bosom of our Holy Church." him. Both seemed to be foreigners, and to “May all the saints bless your prayer! but have just arrived after a long journey. The I am afraid a long time will elapse before this broad-brimmed hat of one of them concealed will be the case." a very characteristic Italian face, a mixture of "The state of affairs here is by far more faclerical sanctimoniousness and worldly cun- vorable than you think, reverend father. Every ning. No sooner was Digby alone with his thing tends to promote our plans. Since Buckvisitors, than he gave vent to his surprise. ingham's death, the influence of the queen has
“Reverend father,” he said, kissing the been constantly on the increase, and her zeal hand of the Italian," I should sooner have ex- for the Catholic cause is well known to you. pected the heavens to fall than to see you in She has to be checked rather than incited, as England. Are you aware of the danger to she is yet too destitute of sagacity, and suffers which you are exposed here?”
herself to be hurried on to imprudent steps "I am. I am not ignorant of the barbarous | by her restless mind and her impatience.
6. You may
Many distinguished persons in the kingdom compelled to disturb your plans, for mere either adhere firmly to the ancient faith, or pleasure does not seem to be the reason of have returned to it publicly or secretly. Some your sojourn here." important conversions have lately taken place
be right; but in serving my own even among the prominent officers of the king. interests, I never lose sight of those of the Lord Cottington, and Windbank, the private order. The Earl of Bridgewater, Lord Presisecretary, have turned Catholics, and the ex dent of Wales, is one of the wealthiest and ample they have set is imitated every day by most distinguished noblemen of this kingdom. others. There are even many clergymen of I have succeeded in gaining his confidence, the Church of England who are secret friends and sowing the seeds of doubt in his weak of Rome. If we succeed in gaining the all- heart. In a few days the seeds would probpowerful Laud over to our side, we are sure ably have borne some fruit already, and we of vid y."
should have gained another adherent to our “And you think that he will espouse our Church. I am afraid that all will be lost
again by my absence.” “ His inclination toward the Catholic Church “He who desires to gain great things must cannot be doubted. Wherever he can, he re- know how to give up lesser .ones. If Laud, stores the ancient rites and ceremonies. His the Primate of the Church of England, joins liturgy is but slightly different from our mass. our side, the others will follow him, as the He has introduced again costly vestments, al- whole flock follows the shepherd. Your labor tars, and images of saints; in short, he lacks will not be lost for all that; it will be acnothing to be as good a Catholic as you and I knowledged both in heaven and here on but the acknowledgment of papal authority. earth.” His boundless pride has hitherto prevented “I do not desire to conceal any thing from him from bowing to Rome; but now that you you. The earl has a daughter." bring him the cardinal's hat which the Holy “I understand. You are desirous of putFather has conferred on him, this last scruple ting an end to your forlorn condition as a widwill disappear also.”
ower; and as a rich dower is doubtless not “You know that my own safety does not wanting to the lady, you intend thereby to permit me to negotiate directly with Laud; extricate yourself from your pecuniary emnor will the Primate of the Church of England barrassments. The order cannot blame you be willing to receive me. Our negotiations, for this; nay, it approves of what you are dotherefore, must be carried on by a person who ing, as it is important to it that the influence will not be suspected, and the general of our and social standing of its friends should be holy order has selected you to take this task placed on a firm footing. In the first place, upon yourself.”
however, it must insist on the strict fulfilment “I shall always treat his wishes as orders. of your duties. After performing your mission I shall leave Ludlow Castle with you this very and gaining Laud over to our side, you will day, and repair to London in order to commu have plenty of time left to occupy yourself nicate your offers to the archbishop. All per- with the affairs of your heart, court the lady, sonal considerations must be subordinate to and make her your wife.” the interests of the order."
“But what if another should outstrip me ?" “ You seem to leave the castle reluctantly," " Then there are rivals of your suit, and said the wily Jesuit. “I am sorry that I am I competitors for her favor ?”
“There is but one up to this time, so far as are sure to deliver them into our hands. You I know. A young poet who lives in the know the parable of the bundle of arrows. So neighborhood seems to have made some im- long as a bond unites them, they cannot be pression upon the heart of the young lady. broken, but any child can break them singly. He is not destitute of' talent, and it has oc- We will look on quietly while the heretics are curred to me that he might become a useful destroying each other. You will see it will instrument in our bands, although he sympa- not last much longer." thizes openly with the Puritans."
“ The Catholics are to remain neutral, “What is his name?"
then?" “Milton. John Milton."
“Not altogether. There may soon come a “I will remember it, and the order will not time when we shall take a decisive part in the lose sight of him."
struggle. But for the time being I deem an The Jesuit drew from a secret pocket a attitude of quiet observation most advisable note-book, in which he wrote a few words in for us. We must break neither with the cipher.
Church of England, nor with the Puritans. “For the rest,” he added, in a calmer tone, Who knows to-day which side may be victo" it seems to me you have little or nothing to rious to-morrow? Besides, you will bear in fear from such a rival. Poets are rarely dan- mind that the interests of the Catholics in gerous ; your own experience must have taught England in some points are identical with you that, as you yourself did homage to the those of the Protestant dissenters.” Muses in your early years. They are wild en “Of our worst enemies ?” asked Digby, thusiasts, and it is not until the vapors and wonderingly. mists of imagination have vanished, that they “ Yes. Are not the Puritans and similar see men and things as they really are. But separatists persecuted as we are ? are we not then it is too late for them; the opportunity both groaning under the same penal laws ? In is gone, and they stand empty-handed. I am demanding freedom of conscience and toleraastonished that a man like you should be tion, the sectarians are fighting for us. Not afraid of such an enthusiast. Seize the prize our friends, but our enemies, must be useful to boldly, and the lady cannot escape you. But us. It will be good policy for us to go hand in we will talk of this secondary affair at some hand with them so long as our own advantage other time. We have to speak of more im- requires it. After triumphing with them and portant matters. You mentioned the Puri- through them, it will be time enough for us to tans. What of them and the dissenters in drop them. Do not forget this policy, which general ?"
you will, perhaps, be obliged to pursue in a “They are gaining every day numerous ad- very short time.” herents, and are rankling like weeds in the “You will find me ready at all times to dismal swamp of the Reformation.”
obey the instructions of the order, and the “So much the better,” replied the Jesuit, commands of the Holy Church.” with a singular smile. “We cannot wish for a “Very well. Let us not lose a moment. more faithful ally than this sectarian spirit, We must leave the castle this very hour, and provided we know how to profit by it. The enter upon our most important mission. If more numerous the sects in England, the easier Laud accepts the cardinal's hat, England will will be our triumph. They are fighting and be ours to-morrow.” persecuting each other for us ; their dissensions Digby at once obeyed the Jesuit, whom he
honored as his superior. He himself was a prevented. Almost down to the present time secret member of the order, and he had even this event was annually celebrated in London received permission to remain apparently a and nearly every town of England, and a figure member of the Church of England so long as of Guy Fawkes was burned amid great rejoichis position should require it. On the other ings. All these plots and intrigues added to hand, he had solemnly pledged himself to the hostility with which the English people strictly obey the orders of his superior. Filled were animated against Rome, and stirred up from early youth with intense hatred of the an unyielding fanaticism against the Catholic Reformation, which had cost bim his father's Church. The Protestant clergy thundered life, and a large portion of his fortune, he forth the most terrible denunciations and menknew no other or higher object than the resto aces against the pope and his adherents, and ration of Catholicism. In these aspirations he lavished on them the most offensive invectives was upheld and seconded by his bigoted Cat and obscene by-words, from wbich that period olic mother. Already, during his sojourn in of ardent fanaticism never shrank back. Rome France, he had carried out the purposes which was called a hot-bed of sin and lewdness, and he had entertained for a long time, and had the pope was compared with the Antichrist, returned into the bosom of the Catholic the dragon, and the seven-headed beast of the Church. He had ever since devoted his whole Apocalypse. Thus the gulf was widening from activity to the interests of the order, which day to day, and the hatred of the people besoon found him to be one of its most useful came constantly more intense. and energetic members.
Notwithstanding these unfavorable prosRome, which forgets nothing and gives up pects, the Catholic Church was not disheartnothing, could not get over the defection of the ened. What she had failed to accomplish by English people. During the reign of Queen violence, sbe sought to obtain in a more peaceElizabeth, the Holy See had called out the ful way. Moreover, there had been in English Catholic powers against the heretical princess, affairs a change which seemed to encourage to reëstablish the ancient faith, sword in hand. her to renewed activity. It is true, the hearts At the bidding of Rome, Philip of Spain had of the people and of Parliament were still filled equipped the proud Armada, which was ship with the old hatred of and aversion to Rome, wrecked on the shores of England. Rome was which manifested themselves by the most cruel the soul of all insurrections and conspiracies laws and bloody penalties. No Catholic was against Elizabeth; the unfortunate Mary Stuart permitted to hold a public office. The priests was only a welcome tool in her hands. Espe of the Roman Church were persecuted as herecially did the order of Jesuits, which had been tofore, imprisoned, and even executed, and established but a short time, display extraor- conversions were rigorously prohibited. King dinary activity and energy in this respect. Charles I. had married a Catholic princess, After Elizabeth's death, early in the reign of Henrietta of France, and promised her not James I., the Jesuits brought about Guy only that she herself should be at liberty to Fawkes's celebrated gunpowder-plot, the ob- worship God in accordance with the rites of ject of which was to blow up the Parliament- her religion, but that such alleviations as were house, when the king, the queen, the king's in his power should be granted to all the memeldest son, the lords, and the members would bers of her Church. The queen had in her all be present. An accident led to the discov- suite not only French courtiers, but also ery of the plot, and the dreadful explosion was | priests, and even monks. For the first time