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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Last Look: A Tale Of The Spanish Inquisition - Chapter 2. The Inquisition
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The Last Look: A Tale Of The Spanish Inquisition - Chapter 2. The Inquisition Post by :trevorjoy Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :1778

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The Last Look: A Tale Of The Spanish Inquisition - Chapter 2. The Inquisition

CHAPTER TWO. THE INQUISITION

At the time our story commences, the inquisitors scarcely suspected how far the opinions they so much dreaded had extended. They had satisfied themselves hitherto with burning Jews, Moors, and the poorer class of Christians, whose opinions did not agree with those of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, when Don Gonzales Munebrega, soon after his arrival at Seville on ecclesiastical business, paid the visit which has been described to Dona Mercia de Cisneros, he was considerably startled at hearing her young daughter utter expressions which showed that she had been taught doctrines of a heretical character. The whole family were in his power. He had once loved Dona Mercia; she had rejected him. How should he now use that power? Tumultuous feelings agitated his bosom as he mounted the richly-caparisoned mule which stood ready to convey him to the convent where he lodged.

This was not the only visit he paid to Dona Mercia; but, though courteous to her guest, she was ever on her guard, and carefully kept Leonor out of his way. For once in his life he was baffled. Whenever he paid his visits the same caution was observed. At length he was compelled to take his departure from Seville. Years rolled on, but he never forgot the remarks made to him by the young Leonor de Cisneros. He had hated her father, he had been rejected by her mother. It is difficult to describe the feelings with which he regarded the daughter, still less those which he had entertained for the mother. Were they holy and pure? The lives of thousands of cardinals, bishops, and priests of all degrees, is the best answer to the question.

Don Gonzales Munebrega was rising in the Church. He had become Archbishop of Tarragona. His heart had become harder and harder; in reality an infidel--an alien from God--a hater of all that was pure and holy, he thought that he was becoming devout. He was resolved that if he was not on the right way to heaven, no one else should get there by any other. The war was now to begin against heresy and schism--terms abused, especially the latter, at the present day almost as much as in the darker days of Popish supremacy. There are to be found clergymen of the Church of England who can, unconcernedly, see many of their flock going over to the Church of Rome, whom they have possibly led half-way there; and yet should any of the rest of their congregation, disgusted with their Ritualistic practices, or fearing the effect of their false teaching on their children, strive to set up an independent place of worship, or to join any already established body of Christians, anathemas are hurled at their heads, and they are told that they are guilty of the heinous crime of schism--schism, in the sense they give it, a figment of sacerdotalism, priestcraft, and imposture. But does the crime of schism not exist? Ay, it does; but it is schism from the true Church of Christ, the Church of which He is the head corner-stone, the beautified in Heaven, the sanctified on earth; from God's people, who are with Him in glory, who are with us here below, who are yet to be born; from the glorious company of the redeemed; from Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, slain for the sins of the whole world, the risen Saviour, the one Intercessor between God and man. Those are guilty of trying to create schism who tell God's people--trusting to the same precious blood shed on Calvary--that it is a crime to worship together, to commemorate the Lord's death together, to put out the right hand of fellowship, to call each other brethren; ay, those are the causers of schism, against whose evil machinations Christian men have cause to pray.

But we must return to Spain. The year 1552 arrived. During it an _auto-da-fe was celebrated at Seville, but as only a few poor Moors and Jews were burnt, it did not create much sensation; still there was no lack of spectators to see the burning. Several criminals were condemned to do penance on the occasion, and among them was the once celebrated preacher, Dr Egidius, whose crime was being true to his Lord and Master. The high conical cap and yellow robe in which he appeared could not make him ridiculous in the eyes of many of his fellow-citizens, even of those who did not sympathise with his opinions. At length he was liberated, and once more mixed with his friends at Seville. It was necessary, however, for him to be very cautious, lest, as his movements were watched, he should draw suspicion on them. Soon after he was released, he set out for Valladolid, where his wounded spirit was much refreshed by finding the progress the Gospel had made in that city and its neighbourhood. Over-fatigued by his return journey, he died shortly after his arrival in Seville. God, however, did not leave His Church in Seville without a minister. Constantine Ponce de la Fuente, on the death of Egidius, obtained the post of Canon-Magistrate in the Cathedral of Seville, previously held by him. This made him the principal preacher in the place, and gave him great influence, which he used in spreading the truth of the Gospel. He published numerous evangelical works suited to the understanding of the least educated of his countrymen. His system was not so much to attack the errors of Rome, as to bring the light of the Gospel to shine on their minds through his addresses and writings. In Valladolid and the surrounding towns and villages, men of talent and eminence were equally zealous in spreading Protestant opinions. They were embraced by the greater part of the nuns of Santa Clara and of the Sistercian order of San Belem, and converts were found among the class of devout women, called in Spain _beatas_, who are bound by no particular rule, but addict themselves to works of charity. One of the most active propagators of the reformed doctrines in the surrounding country was Don Carlos de Seso, who had for important services been held in high honour by Charles the Fifth, and had married Dona Isabella de Castilla, a descendant of the royal family of Castile and Leon. These few examples are sufficient to show the progress made by the Reformation at that time among the highest and most intelligent classes of the community in Spain--made, too, in spite of the ever-watchful eyes of the officers of the Inquisition, and notwithstanding the almost certain death with torture, and by fire, which would be the lot of any denounced by its familiars.

In Spain, in those days, as at present, it was the custom for ladies of rank to receive guests at their houses on certain days of the week. Dona Mercia de Cisneros was holding such a reception one evening. Guests of all opinions came. There were a large number of Protestants; they knew each other to be Protestants, but to the rest of the guests their opinions were unknown. Among the guests were two young men who, though apparently strangers to each other, were attracted by the same object--admiration for Dona Leonor, the youthful daughter of the house. Don Francisco de Vivers, the elder of the two, was an inhabitant of Seville, of considerable wealth and excellent family. He was considered amiable and generous; and was, moreover, handsome and agreeable in his manners, dressed well, and possessed a house and equipages surpassed by few. He was not at all insensible of his own qualifications for winning a young lady's heart, and was, therefore, greatly puzzled at discovering that Dona Leonor seemed insensible to them. Don Francisco loved the world and his wealth far too much to give his heart to God; and Dona Leonor had resolved not to marry any one who would not make up his mind to do so. Possibly too, he might scarcely have heard of the reformed doctrines; he was a firm Roman Catholic. It was a faith which exactly suited him. He found it so easy for a person of his wealth to clear off any sins which might trouble his conscience.

The other young man who has been spoken of seemed to be a stranger in the place, though several affectionate greetings which he received showed that he was not so altogether. He was dressed in black, the usual costume of a lawyer in those days, and though not so handsome as Don Francisco, his broad forehead, clear eye, and firm mouth, showed that he was far his superior in intellect. Dona Leonor no longer turned away her head when he approached her, as she had done when Don Francisco drew near, but received him with a friendly smile, while an acute observer might have discovered that a blush suffused her cheek while he spoke. Don Francisco watched him at a distance, and an expression denoting angry jealousy came over his countenance as he saw the intimate terms which existed between the two. He little dreamed, however, of the cause of the earnest love which one felt for the other: it was the pure holy faith which both enjoyed, the same common trust, the same hope, the same confidence in the one ever-loving Saviour. They believed that they were to be united, not only for a time, but for eternity. Their acquaintance had commenced during a visit Dona Leonor had paid to some relatives residing in the town of Toro, of which place Antonio Herezuelo, the young man who has been described, was an advocate. It soon ripened into affection. No barrier existed between them, for the acute lawyer had already been converted to the truth, and, head and heart alike convinced, held firmly to it as the anchor of his soul. Dona Mercia did not oppose their union, for she perceived that Antonio Herezuelo possessed courage, determination, and a superior intellect, beside a gentle and loving disposition--qualities calculated to secure her daughter's happiness, and which would enable him to protect her during the troublous times which she feared might be coming on Spain. She knew well what had happened, and what was occurring in the Netherlands, as did all the educated persons in Spain; but that did not prevent those who had the Gospel offered to them from accepting its truths, or from endeavouring to make them known among their companions. Those who were in the Church, and whose position enabled them to preach, promulgated Gospel truth openly, while laymen spoke of it to their friends in private, or addressed small assemblies of persons who appeared disposed to receive it.

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