CONTROVERSY IN JESUIT LITERATURE
Traicté et dispute contre les équivoques, traduit du latin de R. P. F.
Paris, R. Baragnes et J. Villery, 1625.
FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. (xl) 571 (iii) first and last blank. Roman and Italic letter. Small woodcut printer’s device on title, historiated woodcut initials, typographical and woodcut headpieces, small library stamp of the Jesuit college at Rouen in blank margin of title page, their later label on verso. General light browning. A good clean copy in contemporary limp vellum, remains of ties.
First edition in French of this interesting argument against the Jesuit doctrine of equivocation or mental reservation, published simultaneously with a Latin version. “Such orthodox English protestants as Thomas Morton or Henry Mason held religious views which were profoundly different from those of John Barnes, a Benedictine monk exiled in France. Yet all three adopted broadly the same position on equivocation. In essence, their case consisted of two propositions. Firstly mental reservation was lying, and lying was wrong. Secondly, it was a devious, hypocritical, and Machiavellian doctrine. … (Barnes) held that the Devil was the author of mental reservation, and asserted that all the arguments which had been cited in support of the practise worked equally well in favour of lying; indeed lying was preferable, for it had ancient precedent and was an activity recognised by canon law. Barnes had little time for liars. ‘You should not lie’ he said ‘even to save your life’. … Barnes claimed that the Jesuitical doctrine was Machiavellian. Like the florentine, proponents of Mental reservation allowed evil to be done in order that good might result. .. Barnes’ book was approved by the Sorbonne. In France, popular misgivings about mental reservation were ruthlessly exploited by Gallican opponents of the Jesuits.” Edmund Leites ‘Conscience and Casuistry in Early Modern Europe.’
“John Barnes was one of those Roman Catholics, who, following the Examples of Erasmus Cassander Wicelius, Father Paul and many others, made all their lifetime profession of the Catholic religion, though they observed a great many abuses in it, which they heartily wished to see reformed. He wrote a book against Mental reservations (Traicté et dispute contre les équivoques), which was not at all pleasing to the Jesuits, though he dedicated it to Pope Urban VIII. … Doubtless he desired to bring the two Churches as near one another as ever he could.” ‘The dictionary historical and critical of Mr. Peter Bayle,’ Barnes’ writings earned him many ennemies, especially amongst the Jesuits and his own order of the Benedictines.
“Wood relates that his writings ‘made him so much hated by those of his order that endeavours were made to seize upon him and make him an example.’ Barnes, perceiving the danger, fled to Paris, and there placed himself under the protection of the Spanish ambassador. In consequence, however, of the efforts made by Father Clement Reyner and his interest with Albert of Austria, Barnes was carried from Paris by force. … According to Wood he was conveyed from Flanders to Rome, where, by command of the pope, he was, as a contriver of new doctrine, thrust into a dungeon of the Inquisition. His mind giving way, he was removed to a lunatic asylum behind the church of St. Paul the Less, and he appears to have been confined there until his death, which occurred in August 1661.” DNB. A very good copy of this rare work, most interestingly from a Jesuit library, the Jesuit College at Rouen.
Shaaber. B 229. Not in BM STC fr. C16th, Brunet or Graesse.