Monita Secreta Societatis Jesu

Monita Secreta Societatis Jesu or secret instructions for the Jesuitic order, is a work which has been the cause of much dispute, both as to its authenticity and as to the veracity of its contents. In Europe the book has attracted some attention, and, in consequence, some controversy; but in America it has been the subject of a very animated discussion, and we are therefore warranted in giving a detailed history of the book, and the position of the acknowledged authorities in such difficulties.

I. History of its Origin, Editions, etc. — The Monita was first printed in Latin, from the Spanish, at Cracow, the capital of Poland, with this title: Monita Privata Societatis Jesu, Notobirge, Anno 1612, by an unknown editor, with various "Testimonies of several Italian and Spanish Jesuits" confirmatory of the truth of the Monita. The "Constitutions of the Society," though printed as early as 1558, had never been published. Everything connected with the rules of the order had been carefully concealed from the public eye. The Monita, therefore, was rapidly bought and everywhere circulated, not only in Poland; but in Germany, Italy, and France. It gratified an intense curiosity, and was generally recognized at once as a faithful portraiture of Jesuitism. Claude Acquaviva, "the ablest and most profound politician of his time," and "the beau ideal of Jesuitism," was the general of the order, exercising over it a complete control. The Monita was regarded then, as it has been since by Van Mastricht and many other judicious scholars, as the product of his pen. The book certainly does not misrepresent him. The tactics are his, and may well have derived their inspiration from his wily brain. It does not appear that he ever denied them. He took no steps to prove the publication a forgery. Down to the day of his death (January 31, 1615), nearly three years, the book passed unmolested, though the Jesuits were all-powerful in Poland. The circulation of the Monita finally occasioned the appointment of a commission, July 11, 1615, by Peter Tylick, bishop of Cracow. His confessor was a Jesuit, as was the king's. Tylick admitted that "nothing is certainly known of its author; but," he affirmed, "it is reported, and the presumption is, that it was edited by the venerable Jerome Zaorowski, pastor of Gozdziec." The commission were instructed October 7th to inquire whether "at any time or place Zaorowski had been heard to speak approvingly of such a famous libel, or to affirm that the contents were true, or to say anything of the kind from which it can be gathered that he is the author, or, at least, an accomplice in the writing of this libel." The papal nuncio, Diotallenius, a few weeks after (November 14), added his sanction to the investigation. Yet the author was not found, and there remained no other step for the Papists than the condemnation of the book to prevent its circulation. It was therefore put on the "Index" May 10, 1616, and a professor of Ingolstadt, the learned Gretser, commissioned to prepare a refutation of the Monita's disclosures. This refutation, entitled Libri Tres Apologetici contra Famosum Libellum, was published August 1, 1617, and a second decree was issued by the "Index" in 1621 to make sure of suppressing the circulation of the Monita.

Notwithstanding these efforts on the part of the Jesuits to disprove the authenticity of the work, their opponents continued to assert it genuine. Thus e.g. in 1633 Caspar Schoppe (Scioppius), a German scholar, himself a Roman Catholic, but a genuine hater of the Jesuits, published his Anatomia Societatis Jesu, in which, among other things, he presents a critique on a book that had come into his hands, which he calls "Instructio Secreta pro Superioribus Societatis Jesu." His analysis of the book proves it to have been the same, with slight differences, as the Monifa Privata. But his copy could not have been of the 1612 edition, for he attributes the discovery of the work to the plundering of the Jesuit college at Paderborn, in Westphalia, by Christian, duke of Brunswick. That was in February 1622, ten years later. If his copy had been of the Cracow edition, he could not have made so gross a mistake. This, then, was another source, independent of the first, from which the book was derived. It was credibly reported that another copy had been found at the capture of Prague in 1631, only two years before. The Jesuit Lawrence Forer thereupon pointed out the apparent anachronism in his Anatomia Anatomice, but he failed to convince Schoppe, nor could he shake the popular belief. This position now seems reasonable indeed for there is in the British Museum Library a volume printed at Venice in 1596, and containing, at the end of the book, several manuscript leaves on which the whole of the Monita Secreta is inscribed, the writing being evidently of ancient date. The remote date would rather lead to the conclusion that this work came from some convent, probably Jesuitical, in which the Monita had been introduced for service. The book had now attracted the attention of people everywhere; not only all over the Continent, but even in England the Monita was sought after, and so great was the demand that an edition appeared in England in Oliver's time (1658), On the Continent several editions were sent forth. A French version, entitled Secreta Monita, ou Advis Secrets de la Societe de Jesus, was published in 1661 at Paderborn, under the eaves of the Jesuit college. A second edition of Schoppe's Anatomia appeared in 1668. To aggravate the difficulty, the next year Henry Compton, canon of Christ Church, Oxford, and afterwards bishop successively of Oxford and London, published, in 9 sheets 4to, The Jesuits' Intrigues, with the Private Instructions of that Society to their Emnissaries.

The latter had been "lately found in MS. in a Jesuit's closet after his death, and sent, in a letter, from a gentleman at Paris to his friend in London." This, too, was the Monita Secreta, entirely independent of the others.

At Strasburg, in 1713, Henri de St. Ignace, under the pseudonym of "Liberius Candidus," a Flemish divine of the Carmelite order, published his Tuba Magra, addressed to the pope and all potentates, on the "necessity of reforming the Society of Jesus." In the appendix the Monita Secreta is reproduced in full. In proof of its authenticity, he gives these three reasons: "1. Common fame. 2. The character of the document wholly Jesuitical. 3. Its exact conformity with their practices. Besides, its having been found in the Jesuit colleges." The Jesuit, Alphonso Huylenbrock, published his "Vindications" of the society in the following year. De Ignace could not be shaken from his belief in the authenticity of the book, and issued a second edition in 1714, in which he says that "nothing, or next to nothing, is contained therein that the Jesuits have not reduced to practice." A third edition of the Tuba Magna was published in 1717, and a fourth in 1760. In 1717 the Monita was published by John Schipper, at Amsterdam, from a copy purchased at Antwerp, with the significant title of Machiavelli Muus Jesuiticus. This was followed; in 1723, by an edition in Latin and English, published at London by John Walthoe, Jui., and dedicated to Sir Robert Walpole. A second edition was issued in 1749. Another edition in French (probably a reprint of the Paderborn edition of 1661) was issued at Cologne in 1727.

After the suppression of the. order in 1773, several MSS. of the work were found in Jesuitic haunts, particularly in their colleges. A MS. was even found in Rome which was printed in 1782 under the title Monita Secreta Patrum Societatis Jesu, "nunc primum typis expressa." Evidently its editor had never heard of a published copy of the Monita. It contains numerous errors, such as are very likely to creep into a MS. The New York Union Theological Seminary possesses a copy of this printed edition. The early restoration of the order to power, in 1814, prevented the unearthing of copies direct from Jesuitichands.

II. Defenders of its Authenticity; recent Editors, etc. As far back as the 17th century, after the authenticity of the Monita had been a. matter of dispute for more than a hundred years, we find that astute Lutheran theologian Dr. Johann Gerhard, whose familiarity with polemic divinity was perfectly marvellous, make mention of Schoppe's Anatomia in his great work Confessio Catholica (Frankfort and Leipsic, 1679), and refer to the Monita Secreta as a work of undoubted authenticity. This opinion has been generally quoted and endorsed by ecclesiastical historians, especially of the Protestant Church, with only one exception (Gieseler, Kirchengesch. volume 3, part 2, page 656 sq.). In 1831, after "careful investigation," an edition was published at Princeton, N.J., by the learned Dr. W.C. Brownlee, under the auspices of the "American Protestant Society," containing the original, an English translation based upon that of Walthoe (1723), and a "Historical Sketch." Dr. Hodge, in reviewing the case in the Biblical Repository (4:138), takes occasion to say that the authenticity of the work has never been disproved. "Attempts," he says, "have been made to cry down this work as a forgery... We cannot imagine that these doubts can be seriously entertained by those who peruse the historical essay which is prefixed to it. Facts and authorities are there adduced which we cannot help thinking ought to satisfy every mind, not only of the authenticity of the work, but also of the entire justice of the representations which it gives of the society whose official instructions it professes to exhibit." In 1843, shortly after an edition of the Monita had been issued by Seeley, Mr. Edward Dalton, the secretary of the "Protestant Association of Great Britain," took occasion thus to comment on it in his The Jesuits; their Principles and Acts: "If we weigh well the evidence which has been handed down to us by historians; if we peruse the writings of the Jesuits themselves, and maturely consider the doctrines therein promulgated, and their practical tendency, we can scarcely fail to be convinced of the authenticity of the Secreta Monita." In 1844 an edition was again published in the United States, this time under the auspices of the "American and Foreign Christian Union." It then became the subject of considerable agitation, several Protestant writers of note taking the ground that the work had not a real basis in Jesuitism, and had been proved spurious. In consequence, the learned professor Henry M. Baird, of the New York University, contributed the following additional testimony: "In proof of the authenticity of the 'Secret Instructions,' we have the testimony of a gentleman who as a historical investigator has scarcely a peer — certainly no superior. I refer to M. Louis Prosper Gachard, the 'archivistegeneral' of the kingdom of Belgium, to whose rare sagacity, profound erudition, and indefatigable industry our own distinguished historians, Prescott and Motley, pay such frequent and deserved compliments; the. latter, in the preface to his Dutch Republic, remarking: 'It is unnecessary to add that all the publications of M. Gachard — particularly the invaluable correspondence of Philip II and of William the Silent, as well as the "Archives et Correspondance" of the Orange Nassau family, edited by the learned and distinguished Groen van Prinsterer — have been my constant guides through the tortuous labyrinth of Spanish and Netherland politics.' In M. Gachard's Analectes Belgiques, a volume from which Mr. Prescott draws much of the material of the first chapter of his Philip the Second, I find a short article devoted to 'The Secret Instructions of the Jesuits' (page 63). 'When the Monita Secreta Societatis Jesu were published, a few years since,' says M. Gachard, 'many persons disputed the authenticity of this book; others boldly maintained that it had been forged, with the design of injuring the society by ascribing to it principles which it did not possess. Here are facts that will dissipate all uncertainty in this respect: At the suppression of the order in the Low Countries in 1773, there were discovered in one of its houses, in the College of Ruremonde (everywhere else they had been carefully destroyed at the first tidings of the bull fulminated by Clement XIV), the most important and most secret-papers, such as the correspondence of the general with the provincial fathers, and the directions of which the latter alone could have had cognizance. Among these papers were the Monita Secreta. A translation of them was made, by order of the government, by the "substitut procureur-general" of Brabant, De Berg. It still exists in the archives of the kingdom, and I can vouch that it differs in nothing substantially (quant au fond) from that which has been rendered public.'"

In 1869 the Reverend Dr. Edwin F. Hatfield ably reviewed the case of the "Secret Instructions" in the New York Observer, and since that time but little has been advanced either pro or con. Prof. Schem, well known for his ecclesiastical learning, and himself educated at the Jesuitical college in Rome, but now a Protestant in theology, in the article JESUITS SEE JESUITS in this Cyclopaedia took ground against the authenticity of the Monita, and, as he is entitled to a hearing, we did not there dissent from his article. Our own judgment, however, is to accept the Moanita as a Jesuitical production, containing the instructions of the order. In the article "Jesuits" in the Encyclop. Britannica, Dr. Isaac Taylor, its author, states that thee Monita is "believed to be a spurious production," but he by no means anywhere indicates that he himself believed it spurious; on the contrary, it is more than likely that he held it to be genuine.

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