Page 15, 6th July 1935

6th July 1935
Page 15
Page 15, 6th July 1935 — Continuing

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Locations: York, Rome, Gloucester, Durham, Oxford


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Blessed Edmund Campion


The extract given below is the second of the series which the " Catholic Herald " is privileged to print from " Edmund Campion " by Evelyn Waugh, which Messrs. Longmans, Green and Co:, are publishing in September.

There was another young Oxford man who attracted their particular attention, a Fellow of Christ Church named Tobic Matthew. He was younger than Campion, barely twenty years old, and had had no part in the debates in the schools. It was not until Elizabeth's last day in Oxford that he was presented to her, when he made a farewell oration which attracted her so much that she nominated him her scholar. Cecil looked after him well; a splendid career lay before him. He became Canon of Christ Church four years later; in 1572, at the unusually early age of twenty-six, he was made President of St. John's, where he set himself to release the college from its obligation to receive poor scholars elected from the Merchant Taylors; four years later he was Dean of Christ Church, later Vice-Chancellor; from there he turned to the greater world, became successively Dean and Bishop of Durham, and, finally, Archbishop of York. He was a talkative little man, always eager to please, always ready with a neat, parsonic witticism; the best of good fellows, everywhere, except in his own family. When, on the Council ol the North, he was most busy hunting down recusants, he was full of little jokes to beguile his colleagues. He was a great preacher. At first he kept no count of his sermons, but later, realising their importance, he scored them punctually in a book; between his elevation to the Deanery of Durham and his death he preached 1,992 times. In James's reign he saw the trend of the times, and alone among the bishops, voted in favour of conference with the lower house. He married admirably, a widow of stout Protestant principles and a unique place in the new clerical caste, which had sprung naturally from the system of married clergy; Frances Barlow, widow of Matthew Parker, Junior; she was notable in her generation as having a bishop for her father, an archbishop for her fatherin-law, an archbishop for her husband, and four bishops for her brothers. Tobie Matthew died full of honours in 1628. There, but for the Grace of God, went Edmund Campion.

The visitors departed and the University settled down to its normal routine. At St. John's work started early with a lecture in logic at half-past six; at nine there were a Greek lecture; rhetoric at one or two; there were also University lectures once or twice in the week on divinity, grammar, physics and metaphysics. Mathematics were left to vacations. In hall the college dined at three tables, and fellows and masters at one, bachelors and third-year undergraduates at another, the choristers and students at a third; recreation was limited to the bow and arrow. At night the scholars slept in a single, large dormitory, two in a bed. until they were over sixteen years of age. The fellows and tutors had their own rooms, which they shared with a scholar deputed to work for them. Every scholar was put under the particular supervision of a tutor, who directed his studies, saw that his hair was trimmed and his manners orderly, and, when nesessary, corrected him with the birch. The founder of the college, Sir Thomas White, had lived until 1564, and up to his death he saw to it that the rules he had laid down were properly observed. He was a city magnate of modest education and simple piety; a childless old man who devoted the whole of his great wealth of benefactions. The last years of his life were quite overclouded by the change of religion; he collected the sacred vessels from the college chapel and stored them away in his own house for a happier day, and was obliged to stand by helpless while the authorities perverted the ends of his own foundation; he saw the poor scholars whom he had adopted and designed for the priesthood trained in a new way of thought and ordained with different rites, for a different purpose. He had set down in his statutes that the day was to begin with Mass, said in the Sarum use; at Elizabeth's accession it ceased, never to be restored; he saw three of his Presidents, Belsire, Elye, and Stork, deposed by the authorities for their faith. He died a comparatively poor man, out of favour at Court, out of tempt7 with the times, and was buried according to Protestant rites; Campion speaking the funeral oration in terms which read rather patronising.

Perhaps in secret a Mass was said for him; it is impossible to say. There were still many priests in Oxford, and at this time the greater part of St. John's was Catholic in sympathy, but no record survives of any such act, and it seems probable that from the early days of Elizabeth until the counter-reformationary period, fifteen or twenty years later, Catholicism at Oxford was largely a matter of sentiment and loyalty to the old ways, rather than of active spiritual life. The best men, like William Allen, had left the University and the country. were to sing Jacobite songs. But the saying of Mass was a different matter. Whatever the sectional differences between the various Anglican groups, they were united in their resolve to stamp out this vital practice of the old religion. They struck hard at all the ancient habits of spiritual lifethe rosary, devotion to Our Lady and the Saints, pilgrimages, religious art, fasting, confession, penance and the great successico of traditional holidays—but the Mass was recognised as being both the differencing badge and main sustenance of their opponents. The objects specially connected with it, the vestments, plate and missals, were singled out for destruction; the altar stones were taken for paving and cheese presses; they ridiculed the Host in broadsheets and burlesques, called it by derisive nicknames, "Round Robin," "lack in the Box" and "Wormes Meat." "Massing priests" is the phrase constantly used in Cecil's correspondence to designate the Marian priests; the right to have Mass said in a private chapel was one of the main questions at issue in the negotiations for Elizabe_th's marriage with her Catholic suitors; one of the terms suggested for peace with Mary Stuart was that she should "abandon the Mass in Scotland and receive Common Prayer after the form of England." It was one of the complaints against de Quadra that he had allowed strangers to hear Mass in the Ennbasiy Chapel. Other instances of the kind can he quoted almost interminably; many will occur in the course of this narrative. On occasions the feeling found extravagant expression. In July, 1581, the congregation in St. Peter's at Rome were startled by an infuriated Anglican tourist who attempted to snatch the Host from the priest's hand, while in November of the same year another Englishman upset the chalice and attempted to strangle the priest in S. Maria del Popolo.

Opinion differed on the significance of the "Lord's Supper or Holy Communion" service which had been composed in its place; it was employed as an occasional service for communicants only; not as the central act of worship; the wording was devised so as to embrace as far as possible, the conflicting theories of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and Bucer, but it was explicit in its dissociation from the Catholic Mass. It was on this very point —not of the Papal supremacy—that the condemned heretics of Marys reign went to the stake; men and women of noble resolution to whom the new church looked back as martyrs, worthy of the same veneration which Catholics paid to Fisher and More, and the record of whose sufferings, in Fox's highly inaccurate chronicle, was placed beside the Bible in the churches.

The Jaw at this period (1559-1570) was mild in comparison with what it subsequently became; the priest, for saying Mass in public or private, was liable at the first conviction to one year's sequestration from his benefice and six months' imprisonment; at the second, to deprivation and a year's imprisonment; at the third, to imprisonment for life. Anyone inducing him to offend in this way was fined a hundred marks in the first case, fourhundred in the second, and in the third forfeited his entire property and was imprisoned for life. But there do not appear to have been any convictions under this Act at Oxford. Later, in 1577, when the penalties were far heavier and more rigorously imposed, a Mr. Etheridge was arrested for having Mass said in his house; there seems, too, at that time, to have been a regular chapel frequented by Catholics in the cellars under the Mitre Inn, but during the time that Campion was in residence submission on this point may have been complete; the ambiguous attitude of himself and his contemporaries is easily explicable on the assumption that throughout the whole of this period they were entirely deprived of the sacraments.

He probably had taken the oath of supremacy when he became B.A. in 1560. he must have put in a fairly regular appearance at the Protestant services in the college chapel; in 1568 he committed himself mdre gravely by accepting ordination as deacon at the hands of his friend Cheney. Bishop of Gloucester. But it seems clear that he took this step to avoid rather than to invite prominence in eccle siastical affairs. In this confused and ill documented decade. the Catholics, left without effective leadership, appear to have been dealing with the problem of conformity. each in his own way. It was one which varied greatly in different parts of the country. Some refused the oath and went into exile; some paid the penaltie.s of the law. Some, who were popular or locally powerful, avoided, year after year, taking the oath at all; some took the oath and meant nothing by it. That

generation were inured to change; sooner or later the tide would turn in their favour again; a Protestant coup, such as s cnnkon flf to enthrone the Earl of

(Continued from previous column.) might declare for Catholicism herself. In any case, things were not likely to last on their present unreasonable basis. It was one thing for a Government to suppress dangerous innovations — that was natural enough; but for the innovators to be in command, for them to try and crush out by force historic Christianity— that was contrary to all good sense; it was like living under the Turks. At the Worst there would soon be a truce, and both parties would practise their religions without interference. So they muddled along, waiting for better times to come. In many places the priest would say Mass in his own house for the Catholics before proceeding to read Morning Prayer in the parish church: occasionally, it is said, he would even bring consecrated Hosts with hint and communicate his Catholic parishioners at the same time as the Protestants. Each manor devised a compromise in its own way.

At Oxford the division was more sharply defined; there-was a Catholic party in the majority, and a Protestant party in the ascendant. Campion hesitated between the two, reluctant to decide. What he wished was to be left in peace to pursue his own studies, to discharge the duties which soon fell on him as proctor and public orator, to do his best for his pupils. But he was born into the wrong age for these gentle ambitions; he must be either much more, or much less. By the statutes of the college he was obliged, if he wished to make his career in the University, to proceed to the study of theology and the acceptance of Holy Orders. He put it_off_as long as he could, concentrating at first upon Aristotle and natural theology, where there was little to entangle him in the controversies of the day. but in 1567 he had, in the normal course, to proceed to the study of the Fathers. Here every sentence • seemed to bear a topical allusion, and the deeper he penetrated into the minds of the Doctors, the further he seemed from the Anglican Church which he was designed to enter. Isle fled and doubled from the conclusions of his reason; nothing but ill was promised for him by the way he was being drawn; he prayed fervently, he consulted those about hint Shrewd little Tobie Matthew was recognised as a specialist on the subject. Earnestly, man to man, Campion asked him how, with his deep knowledge of the Fathers, he could take the side he

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