A letter of the Reverend Father Peter Iesuite, Almoner to the King of England, written to the Reverend Father le Chaise Confessor to the most Christian King, touching the present affairs of England.

Most Reverend Father, if I have failed for the last 15 days to obey your orders, it was not want of Affection but health that occasioned the neglect, for which I shal endeavour to make amends by the length of this. I shal begin where my former letter left of, & shall tell you that since the appearing of a letter in this town wrote by the prime Minister of Holland, which declares the intention of the Prince & Princess of Orange in relation to the repealing the Test or (to speak more properly) their aversion to it, this letter hath produced very ill effects amongst the Hereticks, whom (at the return of our fathers from those parts) we had perswaded that the Princess would comply with every thing relating to the test that the King should propose to the next Parliament, in case he should call one (to which I do not find his Majesty much inclined:) but the coming of this letter (of which I have enclosed a copy) hath served for nothing but to encourage the obstinate in their aversion to that matter. The Queen as well as my self were of opinion against the sending of any such letters to the Hague upon this subject but rather that some person (able to discharge & to perswade) should have been sent thither. For all such letters when they are not gratefull produce bad effects. That which is spoken face to face is not so easily divulged, nor are things discovered to the vulgar but what we have a mind they should know: & I beleive your Reverendship will concur with me in the opinion. This letter hath extreamly provoked the King who is of a temper not to bear a refusall & who hath been used not to have his will contradicted, & I verily beleive this very affront hath hastened his resolution of recalling the English Regiments in Holland. I shewed his Majesty that part of the letter that related to the opinion of his most Christian Majesty upon this subject, which his Majesty well approved of. We are in treaty to know the success of this affair & what answer the states will give. The King changeth as many Heretick officers as he can to put Catholicks in their places, but the misfortune is that here we want Catholick Officers to supply them, & therefore if you know any such of our Nation in France you will do the King a great pleasure to perswade them to come over & they shall be certain of employments either in the old troops or in the new that are speedily to be raised, for which by my letter I pass my word. Our Fathers are continually employed to convert the Officers, but their obstinacy is so great that for one that turns there are 5 that had rather quit their commands: but there being so many Malcontents (whose party is already but too great) the King hath need of all his prudence & temper to Manage this great affair, & bring it to that perfection we hope to see it in ere long. All that I can assure you is that there shall be no neglect in the Queen who labours night & day with an unexpressible diligence for the {prop}agation of the Faith , & with the Zeale of a holy Princess. The Queen Dowa <1v> ger is {illeg} {in} earnest, & fear makes her resolve to retire to Portugal to pass the rest of her days in devotion. She hath already asked the King leave, who hath not only granted it, but also promised that she shall have her Pension punctually paid & that during her life her servants that shee leaves behind shall have the same wages as if they were in waiting. She stays but for a proper season to embark for Lisbon, & to live there free from all storms. As to the Queen's being with Child, that great Concern goes as we could wish, notwithstanding all the satyricall discourse of the hereticks who content themselves to vent their poison in libells, which by nights they dispers in the streets or fix to the walls. There was one lately found on the Pillar of a Church that imported that such a day thanks should be given to god for the Queens being great of a Cushion. If one of these Pasquil-Masters could be discovered, he should have but an ill time of it & should be made to take his last fare-well at Tiburn. You will agree with me most Reverend Father that we have done a great thing by introducing Mrs Sylliere unto the Queen. This woman is totally devoted to our Society & Zealous for the Catholick religion. I will send you an account of this great affair & will use the method you sent me, which I think admirable. I can send you nothing certain of the Prince & Princess of Denmark. He is a Prince with whom I cannot discourse about religion. Luther was never more earnest then this Prince. Tis for this reason that the King who doth not love to be denyed, never yet prest him in that matter. His Majesty thinks that we Fathers should forbear before he undertakes to speak to him. But this Prince, as all of his Nation, hath an aversness to our Society; & this antipathy doth much obstruct the progress of our affairs, & it would be unacceptable to complain hereof to the King at present to trouble him, thô he hath an entire confidence in us & esteems & looks upon our Fathers as the Apostles of the Island. I mention nothing particular of Scotland, but desire that Father Thomas would give your Reverend Fathership an account thereof. As for Ireland, that Country is already catholick, yea all the Militia are so. The Vice-Roy merits great praise. One may give him the honour that he is a son worthy our Society, & I hope will participate of its merits. He informs me that he hath himself wrote to your Reverendship of these matters how things go there. Some Catholick Regiments from those parts will speedily be sent over for the Kings guards, his Majesty being resolved to trust them rather then others, & may do it much better in case of any popular commotion, against which we ought to secure our selves the best we can. His Majesty doth us the honour to visit our College often & is most pleased when we present him some new converted schollars whom he encourageth with his gracious promises. I have not expression enough to let you know with what devotion his Majesty communicated the last College days & a heretick cannot better make his Court to him then by turning to the catholick faith. He desires that all the religious of what order soever they be, make open profession (as he doth) not only of the Catholick religion but also of their order, not at all approving that Priests or religious should conceal themselves out of fear; & he has told them that he will have them weare the habit of a religious, & that he will take care to defend them from affronts, & the people are already accustomed to it, & we <2r> begin to celebrate funerals with the same ceremonies as in France, & it {is truly} a miracle to see that no body speaks one word against it, no not so much as the ministers in their pulpits, in so good order has the King managed the matters. Many English hereticks resort often to our sermons, & I have often recommended to our Fathers to preach now in the beginning as little as they can of controversy because that provokes, but to represent to them the beauty & antiquity of the catholick religion, that they may be convinced that all that hath been said & preached to them & their reflexions concerning it hath been all scandall. For I find as the Apostle saith, they may be nourisht with milk not being able to bear strong meat. Many have desired me to give them some of our prayers & even the holy Mass in English, which I intend to do to satisfy the meaner sort, of which the greater part doth not understand Latin: but to take away their testaments, which is a matter of moment & that we may not at the beginning, we must permit them to have them for a time till they part with them of themselves. I shall need, Reverend Father councell upon this point & not in this only but also in a great many other matters that dayly press me. For you may easily beleive that I have often more business then I can well dispatch & one must walk with so much circumspection & caution that I have often need of your fatherships wise councell. But the Lord & the good Virgin do strengthen me as there is occasion. The Bishop of Oxford has not yet declared himself openly. The great obstacle is his wife which he can't rid himself of, his design being to continue Bishop & only change communion, as it is not doubted but the King will permit & our holy Father confirm, so I do not see how he can be farther usefull to us in the religion in which he is yet, because he is suspected & of no esteem amongst the hereticks of the English Church, nor do I foresee that the example of his conversion is like to draw many after him because he declared himself too suddenly. If he had beleived my counsel which was to temper for a time he would have done better. But it is his temper or rather zeal that hurried him. There are two other Prelates that will do no less then he, but they hold off a little to see how they may be serviceable to the propagation & produce more fruit while they continue undiscovered. That which doth us most harm with the Lords & Gentlemen is the apprehension of a Heretick Successor. For as a Lord told me lately, Assure me of a Catholick Successor & I will assure you I & my Family shall be so too. To this purpose the Queen's happy delivery will be of great moment. Our Zealous Catholicks already lay two to one that it will be a Prince. {illeg} does nothing by halfs. Every day Masses are said on this occasion. I {illeg} <2v> {gained} a great point in perswading the King to place our Fathers in Magdalen College in Oxford, who will be able to introduce the schollars in the Roman Catholick Religion. I rely much upon Father Thomas Fairfax to whom I have given necessary instructions how he ought to govern himself with the heretical youth & to take care in the beginning that he speak not of any thing that may terrify. And as I have told you, a Religious hath need here of great prudence at this time that the King may hear no complaints that may displeas him, & therefore we dare not at present do all we shall be able & bound to do hereafter for fear of too much alarming the mobile. I like well that Father Alexander goes to stay some months at the Hague incognito under pretence of solliciting for a place which is not soon to be got there, & have given him letters to some of that part, Father Smith that is there now (by reason of his great age) not being able to do all he ought & wisheth to do, & is also too well Known there, & I shall often impart to you what I shall learn from those Quarters, of which I shall weekly receive something of moment. So long as the two parties are in so bad intelligence together as at present they are (for my part to speak freely upon this Topick to your Reverend Fathership) I am of opinion that we should rather endeavour to moderate then aggravate differences between them, thô I do not in this matter altogether concurr with the sense of the French Embassadour who considers wholy his Masters interest. But we are necessitated to take other measures & such as perhaps may not always agree with the interest of France in this matter: And I think the aggravating this breach at present to be also prejudicial to the Catholick Religion it self. For the great designe we have so long aimed at is (according to the example of France{)} to take from the Hereticks all hopes of a leader or any other protection then what they must expect from their own King which they finding themselves exposed to his pleasure will the more readily subscribe to his will. But this misunderstanding between us will occasion an opportunity to the Hereticks to set up the Prince of Orange for their chiefe. And let me assure you not to deceive our selves, the religion of England as well as the Presbyterian themselves regard the Prince of Orange as their Master, & his person is already so powerfull in both the Kingdoms that it will appear terrible to any thinking person should things come to extremity, which may never happen if matters are not pusht on too far, but managed with moderation. And I desire therefore with great deference {to your} better judgment that this matter might be hinted to his Christian <3r> Majesty as opportunity shall serve & am sensible it must be done with very great caution. I can tell you nothing at present concerning the certainty of calling Parliament it requires so many things to be considered of, and measure to be taken that his Majesty ought to be well assured of the success before he convene them together, I am not of opinion with many other Catholicks who say that by calling them the King hazzards nothing, for if they will not answer the ends he needs only prorogue them (as is usually done) but it is my Opinion (& the sence of many others) that his Majesty hazzards much, for if it should unfortunatly happen that they should in their Assembly refuse to comply with his Majesty's desire it may be long enough before he compasses his ends by way of a Parliament & perhaps never, & then remains no Expedients or other means but by violence to execute the orders of his secret Councell which must be supported by his Army that on Pretence of an {Excaniting} may be cald together with the least jealousy or suspition, so you see most Reverend Father that we do not want work in these Quarters & that I must be supplied with your good Prayers, which I beg of you & from all those of our society his Majesty is so desirous that things may be done in order & upon a sure foundation so as to be the more lasting that he makes great application in the Shires & Corporation Towns to get such persons chosen for the Parliament as may be favourable to his Ends, of which he may be sure before the time to debate & the King will make them promise so firmly, & exacts such Precaution from them in writing that they shall not be able to go back, unless they will thereby draw upon themselves his Majesties utmost displeasure, & make them feel the utmost of his resentments & I have here inclosed some effects of his Majesties endeavours in this matter which is an address which the Mayor & Sheriffs & Burgesses of NewCastle in the County of Stafford have presented to the King. See the Gazet where this Corporation as well as Gloster & Tukesbury & others in their Adress promise to choose such Members as shall comply with his Majesties desires if all cities were in as Perfect obedience as this we should quickly have a Parliament called (which the Catholicks & Non Conformists expect with great impatience) but since this cannot be said of many of them the Kings secret Councell thinks good to wait for the Queens delivery that they may see a successor who may have need of the whole protection of the most Christian King to support him & maintain his rights, & by the Grace of God we hope that this Prince treading in his Fathers steps may prove a worthy son of our society like his Father who thinks it no disgrace to be so called as to the other things most Reverend Father our Fathers with me as well as generally all the Catholicks with what grief do we hear of the disunion <3v> between his holiness & the Most Christian King, how doth my head in imitation of the Prophet, become a spring of tears to lament night & day.

The schisme that I foresee coming to the Church, is it possible that our holy society should not stand in the breach, & prevent the mischief that this difference may occasion in the Church, & that no body can reconcile & judge the Priesthood & the people, the Father & the Son, the Eldest son of the Church with the vicar of Iesus Christ upon earth, what a desolation & what advantage to the Hereticks must this occasion. they already bid us convert the children of the Family before we convert strangers, & I must with grief confess they have but too much reason for what they say, & that if there doth not come some present assistance from above I foresee this affair will occasion great prejudice in the North nor have we any hope that his British Majesty will interest herein openly he receiving so little satisfaction from his holiness in some of his demands made by his Embassador at Rome which (merryly speaking) ought to have been granted so great a King who first made that step which his Predecessors for a long time were not willing to undertake in sending his Embassador of obedience to Rome, yet for all this our holy father had not any Particular Consideration of this submission & filiall obedience so that I dare not mention this matter but by way of discourse, dayly expecting that of himself he will be making some proposalls therein. I doubt not Reverend Father of your constant endeavour to accomodate this matter, whereby to take away from the hereticks (more especially the Hugonots of France) this occasion to laugh & deride us, & we should think the change much for the worse if insted of the French Kings going to Geneva, he should march to Rome, what may all this come to especially since the Marquiss of Laverden hath been so passionate in his discours of the Cardinells Councellers as to call them impertinates so far to forget his duty & reverence to the holy Father the Pope himself as to say he doted as the hereticks do confidently discours in these parts: I have caused some Masses of the Holy Ghost to be said, that God would please to inspire the discontented parties with the spirit of Peace & concord, they did acquaint me some time since that Madam Mentenon did take upon her the title of daughter of the society by vertue whereof they may command her by vertue of obedience to use her credit & eloquence with the King to encline him to an accommodation in this matter, in the mean time I hear that at Rome many eminent persons endeavor the same thing with his holiness, who says he cannot recede from what he hath done, otherwise it were in effect to submit to the Article made in France with the Clergy in 1682 {&} consequently of too great moment to recant, & therefore a submission ought to come from the son & not from the Father. I recommend my self to your prayers & blessing desiring you will continue to supply me with your salutary Councells & rest for ever yours.

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