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BY R. W. OVERBURY.
“Is there not a cause?” — 1 SAMUEL xyii. 29.
HOULSTON AND STONEMAN,
65, PATERNOSTER ROW.
In offering the following work to the public it may not be improper for the Author to say a few words as to the circumstances which have induced this step.
The writer's attention was first interested in the subject treated of in the following pages by reading two articles that appeared, after a considerable interval of time, in the Edinburgh Review; the one on Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Order of the Jesuits, and the other on Francis Xavier, their first and most celebrated missionary to the East. It is unnecessary to say that these articles were characterized by considerable ability and research, but there was also an imposing air about them, resulting as it should seem, partly from the imaginative turn of the
writer, and partly from his bringing into prominent view the more striking points in the character of these men, and throwing their foibles and vicious qualities into the back ground. On the whole, the writer is now convinced of what he at first suspected, that the articles in question were adapted to make an impression of the character and proceedings of the Jesuits which, whilst it favoured them, was prejudicial to the interests of truth and virtue. To compare great things with small, the effect was too much like that of Milton's Satan, whose heroic determination and enthusiasm, though allied to the greatest impiety and wickedness, dazzles you, and almost compels your admiration.
From that time the writer's curiosity was excited to know more about this extraordinary Society. An opportunity soon occurred for his pursuing somewhat further his inquiries respecting them. Having been requested to deliver a lecture on some subject at an institution designed for the mental, moral, and religious improvement of youth, he thought that “The Jesuits," as giving an insight into the character and policy of Rome, and as connected with the history of the Glorious Reformation, would not be unsuitable to the occasion.
In qualifying himself for the task he had under
taken, he repaired to the British Museum, where he soon found himself surrounded by a mass of matter bearing on the subject. The result of his investigations were first given in the shape of a lecture at the institution above referred to. A second lecture was afterwards delivered, by request, on the same subject. In the month of March, the same matter, with considerable additions, was delivered to the friends connected with Eagle Street Chapel and others, in three lectures. The subject excited an interest among all classes far beyond what was anticipated. The schoolrooms in Fisher Street, Red Lion Square, where we first met, were too small for the audience the first evening. The second evening, notwithstanding increased accommodation, a considerable number were unable to obtain admittance. On the third evening we met in the chapel, where we had a large assemblage. Had the writer been aware that the mind of the public was ripe for a calm and dispassionate view of the subject, to the extent to which he found it so, he would have prepared a more extended course of lectures on the Jesuits.
To supply this deficiency, and in compliance with the suggestions of several judicious friends, the writer at length determined to employ the press as the means of spreading correct information on the subject.