Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

preters, explaineth the precepts of Christ in the strictest manner, and windeth

up the lives of men to the highest strain of holiness: To say these and other the like things (though in themselves true and certain) would, notwithstanding, here be impertinent, in that it would forestal what the Polonian knight hath writien on this subject. To him, there. fore, I refer thee, desiring thee to read his words without prejudice, and then the works of Socinus himself; and though thou beest not thereby convinced that all which Socinus taught is true (for neither am I myself of that belief, as having discovered that, in some lesser things, Socinus, as a man, went awry, however in the main, he hit the truth) yet for so much of Christ, as thou must needs confess, appeareth in him, begin to have more favourable thoughts of him and his followers.

J. B.

a

To pursue the life of Faustus Socinus, in a brief and perfunctory

manner, would be below the dignity of so great a man; but to do it, fully and elaborately, would perhaps be above our strength. For to relate the praises of renowned men by snatches,and in a negligent fashion,is an injury to virtue; and, if there was ever any, certainly this is the man who deserveth to be described, not only with care, but also with wit. Yet since it is better, that excellent endowments should be commended below their merit, than wholly passed over in silence: It is unreasonable, either that the meanness of the relators should prove prejudicial to famous men, or the greatness of those, who are celebrated, be any prejudice to the wit of the writers. But, as for myself, pardon is due to me upon another aceount, being cumbered with many cares, and hurrying my discourse, within the limits prefixed, to a pittance of time.

Socinus was born in Sene, a most famous city of Tuscany. The nobility of his stock was ancient, and the splendor of his alliances exceeding the condition of a private man. His father, besides the honours of his own family, was, on his mother's side, further ennobled by the Salvetti, which family sometimes flourished with so great power amongst the Florentines, that Pandulphus Petruccius, being expelled out of Sene, was chiefly beholden to the assistance and wealth of Paulus Salvettus for the restitution of his country, and shortly after of his princedom. By which benefit, being obliged, he conferred on him the freedom of the city, and persuaded him to leave his country, and dwell at Sene. This Paulus was father to Camilla, who, being married to Marianus the younger, was mother to Alexander and Lælius Socinus, and grandmother to Faustus. His mother, born to the hope of more than a private fortune, was daughter to Burgesius Petruccius (sometimes prince of the commonwealth of Sene and to Victoria Piccolominea, who being the daughter of Andreas Piccolomineus, lord ofCastilio and Piscaria, and niece to Pope Pius the Second, and Third of that name; and either sister or kinswoman to cardinal John Piccolomineus, to the dukes of the Amalphitani, to the marquisses of Capistranum, to the earls of Calanuin, and many other Italian princes, married into the house of the Petruccii, which then beld the

fortune of the princedom of Sene. But Burgesius, succeeding his father Pandulphus, and not long after by a fatal change expelled out of his country, did not long survive his dignity. Nevertheless Cardinal Raphael Petruccius was his successor in the government of his country, and held for a while the helm of that commonwealth. But Victoria, being left a widow, suffered not her mind, which, in the splendor of her former height, she had never lifted up, to be quailed with so disastrous a vicissitude of things. So that, for the space of fifty-six years, wherein she survived the life and common fortune of her husband, she did with singular modesty, and approved integrity and chastity, endure the solitary condition of widowhood. Her daughter Agnes, whom, according to the dignity of so great a family, she had trained up in most holy manners, she gave in marriage to Alexander Socinus, a young man of noble extraction, but private condition. He was the father of our Faustus, and born in such a family, as had, for a long time, not by arms and power, but by wit and scholarship, seemed to hold a kind of princedom in one sort of learning. For this very Alexander was called the master of subtleties; and his father Marianus the Younger, the prince of law. yers; and Bartholomew, the uncle of Marianus the Younger, was by Angelus Politianus, stiled the Papinian of his age; finally Marianus the elder, Bartholomew's father, a most grave lawyer, is by Æneas Sylvius so highly extolled, that the nariation almost exceeds belief.

The son of this Marianus was Alexander the elder; the grandchild Marianus the younger ; the great grandchildren, Alexander and Lælius, the one (as we said) the father, the other, the uncle of our Faustus. Both of them, for greatness of wit, and endowments of learning, exceeding famous; but to whom that of the poet may justly be applied,

These to the carth the Fates will only show,

Causing them presently away to go. For Alexander having a marvellous sharpness of wit, together with a divine memory and excellent eloquence, had scarce fulfilled the one and thirtieth year of his age, but he was suddenly snatched away, to the great grief of all Italy. And Lælius, having, in a short race of life, pera formed very great matters, exceeded not the seven and thirtieth year

of

his age.

The memory of this man I judge worthy to be exceedingly admired by posterity, who, in so short a space as he lived, not only smelt out so many grievous errors, which had privily crept into the church, but pulling them out of their very holes, first shewed the way how to kill them. He, being by his father Marianus put upon that study which was hereditary to his name, thought that the knowledge of hunian laws was to be fetched out of the very fountains of God's law. To which purpose, whilst he diligently turned over the sacred volumes, he without difficulty found that very many of those doctrines of the church, which are commonly received, are quite opposite to the divine testimonies. And that so much the more easily, because most of them are also repugnant to reason, and such principles, as nature itself hath implanted in us. Inasmuch therefore, as the height of his excellent wit and sharpness of his judgment were accompanied with a singular probity of mind, having detected the errors of the church, he did not (as the greatest part do) abuse them to the contempt of the scripture and religion, but rather used the authority of the scripture, and of the Christian religion, to heal the diseases of the church, which could not be cured, unless the errors were detected. Wherefore, in that study, to which his sublime and pious mind was carried with inflamed speed, a great light, not without the divine assistance, suddenly broke out unto him, especially because, to fetch out the senses of the scripture, he brought with him the knowledge of the oriental tongues, the Hebrew and Greek chiefly, and also the Arabick. Whether therefore, it were for fear of danger as it is likely,or that he might more exactly study purer divinity, and the tongues, he soon passed out of Italy into Switzerland and Germany.

He left his country very young, not being above one and twenty years old. In the next four years, having travelled over France, Brittany, Belgium, all Germany, and Poland, he took up his dwelling at Zurich. Whereupon although he was often drawn away with publick and private affairs; yet did he spend the chiefest part of his exile there, being endeared to sundry princes in all parts, and favoured also by certain Kings.

There was not a noted scholar in that time (than which, none ever abounded more with learned men) but he had by his carriage won not only his friendship, but his familiarity also. Whereby it came to pass, that the inbred goodness of his judgment was accompanied with a singular prudence and sweetness of behaviour. Which endowments are acknowledged in him, as by very many other famous men, so chiefly by Philip Melanchthon, in his commendatory letters, which he wrote to him as he was departing. And indeed what correspondence was between him and the most renowned men of that age, chiefly Calvin, Me. lanchthon, Bullinger, Brentius, Musculus, Munster, Zanchius, Vergerius, Castellio, Beza, Martyr, Ochinus, Cæleus, and sandry others, thei frequent letters unto him do testify, the copies whereof, in a great num ber, have come to our hands. He did not more desire to enjoy their friendship, for the safe-guard of his fortune, than to make use of the same to the benefit of the church. Wherefore he did, by his questions, much urge and exercise those redoubted doctors of the then flourishing divinity. I have a letter written with Calvin's own hand, wherein he openly professeth that he was put into choler by him, and, instead of an answer, sends him back a check and threatening.

• It is not fit, saith he, that you should expect until I answer those portentous questions which you object. If you are disposed to fly through those airy speculations, I beseech you, suffer me, an humble disciple of Christ, to meditatc on such things, as tend to the edification of my faith. And indeed I will by my silence gain what I desire, namely, that you be not henceforth troublesome to me. Now that so gallant a wit, as the Lord hath bestowed on you, should not only be unprofitably taken up with slight matters, but also corrupted with pernicious figments, is a very great grief. What I not long since testified, I again seriously warn you of. That, if you do not timely correct this itch of enquiring, it is to be feared, you will draw on yourself great torments. Should I, under a shew of indulgence, cherish such a vice, as I know to be very hurtful, I should be perfidious and cruel towards you. Wherefore I had rather you should be a little offended with my roughness, than be drawn away, with the sweet allurements of curiosity, beyond all recovery. The time will come, I hope, when you will rejoice, that you were so boisterously awakened.'

Yours,

JOHN CALVIX. Jan. 1, 1552.

Neither was the truth of this threatening either uncertain or contemptible. For, in the month of October, the next year, Servetus was burned at Geneva. Nevertheless, the gravity of Lælius, and his incredible modesty in the greatest endowments of learning and wit, together with his dexterity of carriage, had so disarmed the anger of those that were in a chafe, that they did not endure to hate the man, although, otherwise, they could not brook his freedom. Which thing may teach them, whom over-much freedom of truth betrayeth into needless dangers, that that very truth, which they maintain, is more secured by the circumspect mildness of prudence, than by unbridled zeal. So that they, who of their own accord meet dangers, seem to make greater haste to their own praise, than to ihe advancement of the publick good. And cer. tainly, if there be any, this is the place where the simplicity of the dot is to be mingled with the subtlety of the serpent. Unless we suspect the counsel of our Saviour condemning their unadvised rashness, who oftentimes have very bad success in casting down their pearls where they cannot be estimated according to their worth. The truth is, Lælius remained intire and inviolate amongst the capital enemies of his opinion; yet did he not suffer the sense of his judgment to perish within the closet of his conscience. Wherefore, to those whom he liked, he feared not to entrust the things that had been discovered to him by God. But chief. ly, he instructed his countrymen, the Italians, who, by a pious and voluntary exile, were scattered through several regions of Germany and Poland. I find, in the commentaries of the Polonian churches, that he came twice into our country: First, about the year 1551, when he was six and twenty years old, at what time he is sait, not without great success, to have conversed with very many of the Polonian nobility, and to have caused Francis Lismaninus, the Corcyrean, confessor to Bona Sforzia, the queen, and who was then (if I be not mistaken) the provincial of the Minorites, and first lifted up an ensign of revolt from the Pope in this kingdom, to cast away his cowl. But then, in a few months space, departing into Moravia, he retired thence to the Switzers. His second coming into Poland I find to have happened, after the death of his father Marianus, who died at Bononia, in the year 1556. For not long after, about the years 1558 and 1559, he desired letters of recommendation from the Kings of Poland and Bohemia, that he might the more securely treat with his friends in Venice concerning his patrimony. Then, indeed, it appeared, to the greatest part of the German and Polonian nobility, in what favour he was. For, in his case, there was very great canvassing both with Ludovicus Priulus, the doge of Ve nice, and Cosmus, the grand duke of Tuscany. Almost about the same time, a grievous storm, arising upon a suspicion of heresy, did with a perillous gust shake the whole house of the Socini. After the death of Alexander, Lælius had three brethren surviving, of whom Celsus lived at Bononia; Cornelius and Camillus together with Faustus, son to his brother Alexander, dwelt at Sene. Ainongst these also Lælius, a marvellous artist in suggesting the truth, had scattered the seeds thereof; and, though he were separated by the remote distances of countries, yet did he by effectual industry so cherish them, that, being unknown as yet, and absent, he drew the wives of some to his party. Nor were there wanting, amongst his other familiars and friends, such as were either partners in the same design, or privy thereunto. But the fair hope of that crop was blasted in the very blade, Cornelius being taken, and the rest either scattered, or chaced away. This fear drove Faustus also, then very young, not only out of his native city, but out of Italy itself: Who having lived a while at Lyons in France, Lælius was in the mean time extinguished by an untimely death at Zurich. Faustus, being certified of his death by the letters of Marius Besozzus, had much ado to prevent the snares laid for his papers, yet got the possession thereof, having been already by him informed of very many things, which he afterwards, in long progress of time, did by his sharp wit and indefatigable study polish. The death of Lælius happened on the third day after the ides of May, 1562, and in the thirty-seventh year of his age. That so great a wit was not long-lived, will not seem strange to him who shall consider how soon it was ripe. He had hardly passed the age of 2 stripling, when he left Italy. Within the six and twentieth year of his life, having travelled almost through all the regions of the west, he was, by his great renown, made known to inost of the chief nobility in sundry parts; and perhaps to all learned men every where. It was well nigh fifteen years that he was absent from his country. Out of so small a space of life far journies challenge a great part, by means of which, his exile became profitable to many in sundry coasts of Europe. Add his perpetual commerce with so many great men, together with his continual intercourse of letters, and when you have subtracted these things, how small a pittance of time, I pray you, was left for his studies ? And now, being amazed, we must enquire, what was that so profound leisure! what so vigorous industry? What so ready wit? What so vast understanding, as was sufficieni to master so many tongues, so many sciences, and withal to recollect the mind to itself, and manage the greatest affairs ? To premise these things touching Lælius, had I not listed of my own accord, necessity itself did require. For he it was who by his guidance and counsel drew Faustus himself and others to enter into that way, which they afterwards followed.

Now I return to Faustus, intending in the first place to relate, in brief, the course and chief occurrences of his life; then to comprise his chief actions; and lastly to add a few words concerning the habit of his mind and body, as far as I have by a cursory enquiry attained the knowledge thereof.

« ForrigeFortsæt »