John Dryden.

The works of John Dryden, $c now first collected in eighteen volumes. $p Volume 16 online

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religion till dinner time; when the meat was on the table, the king
invited the Father to eat with him. Xavier excused himself with all
possible respect, but that prince would absolutely have it so. "I know
well," said he, "my friend and father, that you are not in want of my
table; but, if you were a Japanner, as we are, you would understand, that
a king cannot give those he favours a greater sign of his good will, than
in permitting them to eat with him; for which reason, as I love you, and
am desirous of shewing it, you must needs dine with me; and farther, I
assure you, that I shall receive a greater honour by it, than I bestow."
Then Xavier, with a low reverence, kissing his scymitar, which is a mark
of most profound respect, much practised in Japan, said thus to him: "I
petition the God of heaven, from the bottom of my heart, to reward your
majesty for all the favours you have heaped on me, by bestowing on you
the light of faith, and the virtues of Christianity, to the end you may
serve God faithfully during your life, and enjoy him eternally after
death." The king embraced him, and desired of God, on his side, that he
would graciously hear the saint's request, yet on this condition, that
they might remain together in heaven, and never be divided from each
other, that they might have the opportunity of long conversations, and of
discoursing to the full of divine matters. At length they sat to dinner:
while they were eating, the Portuguese, and all the lords of the court,
were on their knees, together with the chief inhabitants of the town,
amongst whom were also some Bonzas, who were enraged in their hearts; but
the late example of Faxiondono hindered them from breaking into passion.

These honours which Xavier received from the king of Bungo, made him so
considerable, and gave him so great a reputation with the people, that
being at his lodgings with the Portuguese, they came thronging from all
quarters to hear him speak of God. His public sermons, and his private
conversations, had their due effect. Vast multitudes of people, from the
very first, renounced their idols, and believed in Jesus Christ. The
saint employed whole days together in baptising of idolaters, or in
teaching new believers; so that the Portuguese could not enjoy him to
themselves for their own spiritual consolation, unless at some certain
hours of the night, while he was giving himself some breathing time after
his long labours. Loving him so tenderly as they did, and fearing that
his continual pains might endanger his health, they desired him to manage
it with more caution, and to take at least those refreshments which human
nature exacted from him, before he sunk at once under some distemper. But
he answered them, "That if they truly loved him, they would trouble
themselves no more concerning him; that they ought to look on him as one
who was dead to all outward refreshments; that his nourishment, his
sleep, and his life itself, consisted in delivering from the tyranny of
the devil those precious souls, for whose sake chiefly God had called him
from the utmost limits of the earth."

Amongst the conversions which were made at Fucheo, one of the most
considerable was that of a famous Bonza, of Canafama, called Sacay Ecran.
This Bonza, who was very learned, and a great pillar of his sect, seeing
that none of his brethren durst attempt Xavier on the matter of religion,
undertook a public disputation with him. The conference Avas made in a
principal place of the town, in presence of a great multitude. Scarcely
had Xavier made an end of explaining the Christian doctrine, when the
Bonza grew sensible of his errors. The infidel, notwithstanding, went on
to oppose those truths, of which he had already some imperfect glimpse;
but being at length convinced, by the powerful reasons of his adversary,
and inwardly moved by God's good spirit, he fell on his knees, and
lifting up his hands towards heaven, he pronounced aloud these words,
Math tears trickling from his eyes; "O Jesus Christ, thou true and only
son of God, I submit to thee. I confess from my heart, and with my mouth,
that thou art God eternal and omnipotent; and I earnestly desire the
pardon of all my auditors, that I have so often taught them things for
truth, which I acknowledge, and at this present declare before them, were
only forgeries and fables."

An action which was so surprising, moved the minds of all the assistants;
and it was in the power of Father Xavier to have baptized that very day
five hundred persons, who, being led by the example of the Bonza of
Canafama, all of them earnestly desired baptism. He might perhaps have
done this in the Indies, where there were no learned men to oppose the
mysteries of our faith, and to tempt the fidelity of the new converts by
captious queries. But he judged this not to be practicable in Japan,
where the Bonzas, not being able to hinder the conversion of idolaters,
endeavoured afterwards to regain them by a thousand lying artifices and
sophistications; and it appeared necessary to him, before he baptized
those who were grown up to manhood, to fortify them well against the
tricks of those seducers.

Accordingly, the saint disposed the souls of those Gentiles by degrees to
this first sacrament, and began with the reformation of their manners,
chusing rather not to baptize the king of Bungo, than to precipitate his
baptism; or rather he thought, that his conversion would be always speedy
enough, provided it were sincere and constant. Thus, the great care of
Father Xavier, in relation to the prince, was to give him an aversion to
those infamous vices which had been taught him by the Bonzas, and in
which he lived without scruple, upon the faith of those his masters. Now
the king, attending with great application to the man of God, and having
long conversations with him, began immediately to change his life, and to
give the demonstrations of that change. From the very fist, he banished
out of his chamber a beautiful youth, who was his minion, and also
forbade him the entry of his palace. He gave bountifully to the poor, to
whom he had formerly been hard-hearted, as thinking it was a crime to
pity them, and an act of justice to be cruel to them, according to the
doctrine of his Bonzas, who maintained, that poverty not only made men
despicable and ridiculous, but also criminal, and worthy of the severest
punishments. According to the principles of the same doctors, women with
child were allowed to make themselves miscarry by certain potions, and
even to murder those children whom they brought into the world against
their will; insomuch, that such unnatural cruelties were daily committed,
and nothing was more common in the kingdom of Bungo, than those inhuman
mothers: Some of them, to save the charges of their food and education,
others to avoid the miseries attending poverty, and many to preserve the
reputation of chastity, however debauched and infamous they were. The
king, by the admonition of the Father, forbade those cruelties on pain of
death. He made other edicts against divers Pagan ceremonies, which were
lascivious or dishonest, and suffered not the Bonzas to set a foot within
his palace. As to what remains, he was wrapt in admiration at the virtue
of the holy man; and confessed often to his courtiers, that when he saw
him appear at any time, he trembled even to the bottom of his heart,
because he seemed to see the countenance of the man of God, as a clear
mirror, representing to him the abominations of his life.

While Xavier had this success at the court of Bungo, Cosmo de Torrez, and
John Fernandez, suffered for the faith at Amanguchi. After the departure
of the saint, the whole nation of the Bonzas rose against them, and
endeavoured to confound them in regular disputes; flattering themselves
with this opinion, that the companions of Xavier were not so learned as
himself, and judging on the other side, that the least advantage which
they should obtain against them, would re-establish the declining affairs
of Paganism.

It happened quite contrary to their expectations: Torrez, to whom
Fernandez served instead of an interpreter, answered their questions with
such force of reason, that they were wholly vanquished; not being able to
withstand his arguments, they endeavoured to decry him by their
calumnies, spreading a report, that the companions of the great European
Bonza cut the throats of little children by night, sucked their blood,
and eat their flesh; that the devil had declared, by the mouth of an
idol, that these two Europeans were his disciples; and that it was
himself who had instructed them in those subtle answers which one of them
had returned in their public disputations. Besides this, some of the
Bonzas made oath, that they had seen a devil darting flakes of fire like
thunder and lightning against the palace of the king, as a judgment, so
they called it, against those who had received into the town these
preachers of an upstart faith. But perceiving that none of these
inventions took place according to their desires, and that the people,
instead of giving credit to their projects, made their sport at them,
partly in revenge, and partly to verify their visions, they engaged in
their interests a lord of the kingdom, who was a great soldier, and a
malecontent; him they wrought to take up arms against the king. This
nobleman, provoked with the sense of his ill usage at court, and farther
heightened by motives of religion and interest, raised an army in less
than three weeks time, by the assistance of the Bonzas, and came pouring
down like a deluge upon Amanguchi.

The king, who was neither in condition to give him battle, nor provided
to sustain a siege, and who feared all things from his subjects, of whom
he was extremely hated, lost his courage to that degree, that lie looked
on death as his only remedy; for, apprehending above all things the
ignominy of falling alive into the power of rebels, pushed on by a
barbarous despair, he first murdered his son, and then ript up his own
belly with a knife, having beforehand left order with one of his faithful
servants to burn their bodies so soon as they were dead, and not to leave
so much as their ashes at the disposal of the enemy.

All was put to fire and sword within the city. During this confusion, the
soldiers, animated by the Bonzas, searched for Torrez and Fernandez, to
have massacred them: And both of them had perished without mercy, if the
wife of Neatondono, of whom formerly we have made mention, and who,
though continuing a Pagan, yet had so great a kindness for Xavier, that,
for his sake, she kept them hidden in her palace till the public
tranquillity was restored; for, as these popular commotions are of the
nature of storms, which pass away, and that so much the more speedily, as
they had been more violent, the town resumed her former countenance in
the space of some few days.

The heads of the people being assembled for the election of a new king,
by common consent pitched on the brother of the king of Bungo, a young
prince, valiant of his person, and born for great atchievements.
Immediately they sent a solemn embassy to that prince, and presented to
him the crown of Amanguchi. The court of Bungo celebrated the election of
the new king with great magnificence, while Xavier was yet residing at
Fucheo. The saint himself rejoiced the more at this promotion, because he
looked, on this wonderful revolution, which was projected by the Bonzas
for the ruin of Christianity, as that which most probably would confirm
it. He was not deceived in his conjectures; and, from the beginning, had
a kind of assurance, that this turn of state would conduce to the
advantage of the faith: for having desired the king of Bungo, that he
would recommend to the prince his brother the estate of Christianity in
Amanguchi, the king performed so fully that request, that the new monarch
promised, on his royal word, to be altogether as favourable to the
Christians as the king his brother.

Xavier had been forty days at Fucheo when the Portuguese merchants were
in a readiness to set sail for China, according to the measures which
they had taken. All necessary preparations being made, he accompanied
them to take his leave of the king of Bungo. That prince told the
merchants, that he envied them the company of the saint; that, in losing
him, he seemed to have lost his father; and that the thought of never
seeing him again, most sensibly afflicted him.

Xavier kissed his hand with a profound reverence, and told him, that he
would return to wait on his majesty as soon as possibly he could; that he
would keep him inviolably in his heart; and that in acknowledgement of
all his favours, he should continually send up his prayers to heaven,
that God would shower on him his celestial blessings.

The king having taken him aside, as to say something in private to him,
Xavier laid hold on that opportunity, and gave him most important counsel
for the salvation of his soul. He advised him above all things to bear in
mind how soon the greatness and pomp of this present life will vanish
away; that life is but short in its own nature; that we scarcely have
begun to live, before death comes on; and if he should not die a
Christian, nothing less was to be expected than eternal misery; that, on
the contrary, whoever, being truly faithful, should persevere in the
grace of baptism, should have right to an everlasting inheritance with
the Son of God, as one of his beloved children. He desired him also to
consider what was become of so many kings and emperors of Japan; what
advantage was it to them to have sat upon the throne, and wallowed in
pleasures for so many years, being now burning in an abyss of fire, which
was to last to all eternity. What madness was it for a man to condemn his
own soul to endless punishments, that his body might enjoy a momentary
satisfaction; that there was no kingdom, nor empire, though the universal
monarchy of the world should be put into the balance, whose loss was not
to be accounted gain, if losing them, we acquired an immortal crown in
heaven; that these truths, which were indisputable, had been concealed
from his forefathers, and even from all the Japonians, by the secret
judgment of Almighty God, and for the punishment of their offences; that,
for his own particular, he ought to provide for that account, which he
was to render of himself, how much more guilty would he appear in God's
presence, if the Divine Providence having conducted from the ends of the
earth, even into his own palace, a minister of the gospel, to discover to
him the paths of happiness, he should yet continue wildered and wandering
in the disorders of his life. "Which the Lord avert," continued Xavier;
"and may it please him to hear the prayers which day and night I shall
pour out for your conversion. I wish it with an unimaginable ardour, and
assure you, that wheresoever I shall be, the most pleasing news which can
be told me, shall be to hear that the king of Bungo is become a
Christian, and that he lives according to the maxims of Christianity."

This discourse made such impressions on the king, and so melted into his
heart, that the tears came thrice into his eyes; but those tears were the
only product of it at that time, so much that prince, who had renounced
those impurities, which are abhorred by nature, was still fastened to
some other sensual pleasures. And it was not till after some succeeding
years, that, having made more serious reflections on the wholesome
admonitions of the saint, he reformed his life for altogether, and in the
end received baptism.

Xavier having taken leave of the king, returned to the port of Figen,
accompanied by the merchants, who were to set sail within few days after.
The departure of the saint was joyful to the Bonzas, but the glory of it
was a great abatement to their pleasure. It appeared to them, that all
the honours he had received redounded to their shame; and that after such
an affront, they should remain eternally blasted in the opinion of the
people, if they did not wipe it out with some memorable vengeance. Being
met together, to consult on a business which so nearly touched them, they
concluded, that their best expedient was to raise a rebellion in Fucheo,
as they had done at Amanguchi, and flesh the people by giving up to them
the ship of the Portuguese merchants, first to be plundered, then burned,
and the proprietors themselves to be destroyed. In consequence of this,
if fortune favoured them, to attempt the person of the king, and having
dispatched him, to conclude their work by extinguishing the royal line.
As Xavier was held in veneration in the town, even amongst the most
dissolute idolaters, they were of opinion they did nothing, if they did
not ruin his reputation, and make him odious to the people. Thereupon,
they set themselves at work to publish, not only what the Bonzas of
Amanguchi had written of him, but what they themselves had newly
invented; "That he was the most wicked of mankind; an enemy of the living
and the dead; his practice being to dig up the carcases of the buried,
for the use of his enchantments; and that he had a devil in his mouth, by
whose assistance he charmed his audience." They added, "That he had
spelled the king, and from thence proceeded these new vagaries in his
understanding and all his inclinations; but that, in case he came not out
of that fit of madness, it should cost him no less than his crown and
life: That Amida and Xaca, two powerful and formidable gods, had sworn to
make an example of him and of his subjects; that therefore the people, if
they were wise, should prevent betimes the wrath of those offended
deities, by revenging their honour on that impostor of a Bonza, and these
European pirates who made their idol of him." The people were too well
persuaded of the holiness of Xavier, to give credence to such improbable
stories as were raised of him; and all the Bonzas could say against him,
served only to increase the public hatred against themselves. Thus
despairing of success amongst the multitude, they were forced to take
another course, to destroy him in the good opinion of the king.

About twelve leagues distant from the town there was a famous monastery
of the Bonzas, the superior of which was one Fucarandono, esteemed the
greatest scholar and most accomplished in all the learning of Japan: he
had read lectures of the mysteries of their divinity for the space of
thirty years, in the most renowned university of the kingdom. But however
skilled he was in all sciences, his authority was yet greater than his
knowledge: men listened to him as to the oracle of Japan, and an implicit
faith was given to all he said. The Bonzas of Fucheo were persuaded, that
if they could bring him to the town, and set him up against Xavier, in
presence of the court, they should soon recover their lost honour; such
confidence they had of a certain victory over the European doctor. On
this account they writ to Fucarandono, with all the warmness of an
earnest invitation, and sent him word. "That if he would give himself the
trouble of this little journey, to revenge the injury they had received,
they would carry him back in triumph, on their shoulders, to his
monastery."

The Bonza, who was full as vain as he was learned, came speedily,
attended by six Bonzas, all men of science, but his inferiors and
scholars. He entered the palace at that point of time when Xavier, and
the Portuguese, had audience of the king, for their last farewell, being
to embark the next morning. Before the king had dismissed them, he was
informed that Fucarandono desired to kiss his hand, in presence of the
Portuguese Bonza. At the name of Fucarandono the king was a little
nonplused, and stood silent for some time, suspecting that he came to
challenge Father Xavier to a disputation, and devising in himself some
means of breaking off this troublesome affair, as he afterwards
acknowledged. For whatever good opinion he had of the saint's abilities,
yel he could not think him strong enough to encounter so formidable an
adversary; and therefore, out of his kindness to him, was not willing to
expose him to a disgrace in public. Xavier, who perceived the king's
perplexity, and imagined from whence it might proceed, begged earnestly
of his majesty to give the Bonza leave of entrance, and also free
permission of speaking: "for, as to what concerns me," said the Father,
"you need not give yourself the least disquiet: the law I preach is no
earthly science, taught in any of our universities, nor a human
invention; it is a doctrine altogether heavenly, of which God himself is
the only teacher. Neither all the Bonzas of Japan, nor yet all the
scholars extant in the world, can prevail against it, any more than the
shadows of the night against the beams of the rising sun."

The king, at the request of Xavier, gave entrance to the Bonza.
Fucarandono, after the three usual reverences to the king, seated himself
by Xavier; and after he had fixed his eyes earnestly upon him, "I know
not," said he, with an overweaning look, "if thou knowest me; or, to
speak more properly, if thou rememberest me." "I remember not," said
Xavier, "that I have ever seen you." Then the Bonza, breaking out into a
forced laughter, and turning to his fellows, "I shall have but little
difficulty in overcoming this companion, who has conversed with me a
hundred times, and yet would make us believe he had never seen me." Then
looking on Xavier, with a scornful smile, "Hast thou none of those goods
yet remaining," continued he, "which thou soldest me at the port of
Frenajoma?" "In truth," replied Xavier, with a sedate and modest
countenance, "I have never been a merchant in all my life, neither have I
ever been at the port of Frenajoma." "What a beastly forgetfulness is
this of thine," pursued the Bonza, with an affected wonder, and keeping
up his bold laughter, "how canst thou possibly forget it?" "Bring it
back to my remembrance," said Xavier mildly, "you, who have so much more
wit, and a memory happier than mine." "That shall be done," rejoined the
Bonza, proud of the commendations which the saint had given him; "it is
now just fifteen hundred years since thou and I, who were then merchants,
traded at Frenajoma, and where I bought of thee a hundred bales of silk,
at an easy pennyworth: dost thou yet remember it?" The saint, who
perceived whither the discourse tended, asked him, very civilly, "of
what age he might be?" "I am now two-and-fifty," said Fucarandono. "How
can it then be," replied Xavier, "that you were a merchant fifteen
hundred years ago, that is fifteen ages, when yet you have been in the
world, by your own confession, but half an age? and how comes it that you
and I then trafficked together at Frenajoma, since the greatest part of
you Bonzas maintain, that Japan was a desart, and uninhabited at that
time?" "Hear me," said the Bonza, "and listen to me as an oracle; I will
make thee confess that we have a greater knowledge of things past, than
thou and thy fellows have of the present. Thou art then to understand,
that the world had no beginning, and that men, properly speaking, never
die: the soul only breaks loose from the body in which it was confined,
and while that body is rotting under ground, is looking out for another
fresh and vigorous habitation, wherein we are born again, sometimes in
the nobler, sometimes in the more imperfect sex, according to the various
constellations of the heavens, and the different aspects of the moon.
These alterations in our birth produce the like changes in our fortune.
Now, it is the recompence of those who have lived virtuously, to preserve
a constant memory of all the lives which they have passed through, in so
many ages; and to represent themselves, to themselves, entirely, such as
they have been from all eternity, under the figure of a prince, of a
merchant, of a scholar, of a soldier, and so many other various forms: on
the contrary, they who, like thee, are so ignorant of their own affairs,
as not to understand who, or what they have been formerly, during those
infinite revolutions of ages, shew that their crimes have deserved death,
as often as they have lost the remembrance of their Jives in every
change."

The Portuguese, from whose relation we have the knowledge of what is
above written, and who was present at the dispute, as he himself informs
us, in his book of Travels, gives us no account of the answers which were
made by Xavier. "I have neither knowledge nor presumption enough," says
he, "to relate those subtile and solid reasons, with which he confuted



Online LibraryJohn DrydenThe works of John Dryden, $c now first collected in eighteen volumes. $p Volume 16 → online text (page 26 of 39)