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the clergy. A priest who had often for a very high price purchased his ecclesiastical dignity by no means felt obliged to conform to rules laid down by men whom he no doubt despised as absurd pietists and fanatics. Hus firmly believed that simony was the principal source of the evil condition of the church in his time. He writes to the King of Poland: 1 “The grace of the Saviour Jesus Christ (assist you) to rule your people and to attain a life of glory. Most serene prince, I was filled with great pleasure when I heard that your serene Highness had, by the will of the Almighty Lord, come to an agreement with that illustrious prince, King Sigismund, and I only pray with the people that the life of you both and of your peoples may continue in the path of justice. Therefore, most illustrious prince, it appears most necessary in the interest both of your Majesty and of his Highness King Sigismund and also of the other princes that the heresy of simony be removed from your dominions. But can I expect its extermination while the poison has spread so widely that hardly anywhere can a priesthood or a people be found that is not tainted by the heresy of simony? Who then confers a bishopric, purely for the honour of God, the salvation of the people, and his own salvation? Who also, considering only these three motives, accepts a bishopric, parsonage, or any other benefice? I wish there were many who did not accept them merely from servility, or to curry favour with men. Is not thus fulfilled the word of Jeremiah, who said: “From the smallest to the greatest of them, all pursue avarice, and from the prophet to the priest, all practise deceit '? And was the disciple of Christ mistaken when he said: “All seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ's '?? We hear the voice of the church, which moans because the gold has been obscured and the finest of colours changed; for the priesthood formerly, as gold made brilliant by fire and whitened by virtue, has now become polluted and obscured, as saith St. Bernard. Fulfilled is the word of our Saviour: Iniquity will abound and love will wax cold among the people. Woe, then,
1 Palacky, Documenta, pp. 31-32.
on him who at this time does not mourn. Hearing these my words, most illustrious prince, the simoniacal, ostentatious, luxurious, and unrestrained priesthood attacks me before the people by disparaging me, and declaring me a heretic. Should I then be silent? Woe on me, if I were silent! It is better for me to die than not to oppose such wickedness, for then should I also be a participator in their (the simonists”) crimes, and deserve hell, as they do. From this may the King of glory preserve your Majesty, who rules holily over your people."
These valuable letters prove that it was Hus who at this period first established amicable relations between the two kindred Slavic countries, Bohemia and Poland, hoping that they would jointly destroy simony and the other terrible evils from which the church then suffered. At the Council of Constance the ambassadors of King Vladislav endeavoured, as far as their diplomatic position allowed them to do so, to save Hus. Vladislav continued to be on terms of friendship with the Bohemian church-reformers, who at one time even offered him the Bohemian crown.
THE WRITINGS OF HUS-PORTRAITS OF HUS
IN distinction from many writers on Hus, I have in this work frequently referred to the writings of the master-both Latin and Bohemian, and quoted them largely. These writings alone enable us to thoroughly conceive the real nature of Hus, who was entirely guided by religious and national enthusiasm, while the minutiæ of mediæval theological controversy did not greatly appeal to him. If he none the less became a skilful scholastic dialectician who at Constance was able to hold his own against very learned accusers, the reason is that such skill was for him a necessity. At a period when politics and religion were closely connected, the accusation of heresy was the most deadly arm that could be used to destroy an opponent. It was certain that those who disapproved of Hus's endeavours to reform the Bohemian Church and to raise the Bohemian nation to a higher political and intellectual level would attempt to declare him a heretic. While some of the Latin works, particularly the Super IV. Sententiarum, bear witness to Hus's erudition, his true nature appears to us more clearly in the works which he composed in his own language. His Bohemian letters, though known in England and France only in second-hand translations, have long been read with interest, and I have in this work quoted largely the equally valuable Postilla and the Expositions (Vyklady). It will, therefore, be sufficient briefly to outline here the general complex of the writings of Hus. This, still a difficult task, would have been almost impossible before the appearance of Dr. Flajshan's valuable bibliographical work.1 Many writings formerly attributed to Hus really had as authors Matthew of Janov, Wycliffe, Chelcicky, and others. On
· Literarni cinnost mistra Jana Husi (Literary Activity of Master John Hus), 1900.
the other hand, many authentic works of Hus disappeared during the so-called " Catholic reformation " which began after the battle of the White Mountain in 1620. The Jesuits were entrusted with the task of discovering and destroying every book that had not been sanctioned by the Church of Rome. The possession of such a book became a crime, punishable by death. It is, therefore, probable that some works of Hus have altogether perished, while others have only recently been rediscovered and published. Though, therefore, even the latest bibliographical study of Hus, that of Dr. Flajshans, can lay no claim to completeness, attempts were made from a very early period to collect the scattered writings of the master and classify them. The first attempts to do so, however, extended only to the so-called writings of Constance, mainly letters to friends that were written by Hus in prison. The trusty disciple and companion of Hus, Peter Mladenovic, tells us that he preserved copies of the writings of the master, and he gives us some slight information as to what these writings were. Lawrence of Brezova 2 gives us somewhat more extensive information and states that Hus, besides numerous letters, wrote several small treatises while in prison. These writers wrote immediately after the death of Hus, but somewhat later the tradition became more obscure. While, as Dr. Flajshans conjectures, some works of Hus were at this early period already definitely lost, works of other writers soon began to be attributed to him. Books written by Peter Chelcicky, whose views certainly in many respects resemble those of Hus, were supposed to be the work of the originator of
1 As late as in 1755 a Bohemian forester named Thomas Svoboda was sentenced to death at the stake because he had been found in possession of a Bible. By an act of grace he was strangled before being burnt.
* See my Lectures on the Historians of Bohemia, pp. 35-47.
3" In ipsa ergo captivitate Magister Johannes Hus virilem habens animum mori potius eligebat quam cleri pestiferi scelerum enormitates approbare, multasque epistolas et scripta utilissima occulte suis scribebat amicis ad vota amicorum et aliquorum carceris custodum tractatus pulcerrimos edidit puta de mandatis dei et oracione dominica, item qualiter committitur peccatum mortale, item de cognicione dei, item de tribus hostibus hominis
Scripsit quoque tractatulum de communione utriusque speciei.” (Laurentii de Brezova, Historia Hussitica, ed. Goll, pp. 332-333.)
* See my History of Bohemian Literature, pp. 153-171.
Bohemian church-reform, and in the hymn-books of the community of the Bohemian brethren, who considered themselves the truest continuators of the work of Hus, numerous hymns by other writers were attributed to the master. Later on, the greater the fame of Hus became the more devotional works were ascribed to him. When the Roman creeds had been forcibly re-established in Bohemia it was endeavoured by all means to blacken the memory of the church-reformer. For that purpose, several writings containing extreme views were wrongly attributed to him.2
It is a proof of the great fame of Hus that some of his writings were among the earliest of printed works. The earliest printed work of Hus of which we know the existence, though no copy has been preserved, was a small treatise entitled Gesta Christi. In 1459 two and in 1495 four of the letters from Constance were printed. The quaint Book against the Priest Kitchen-master was first printed at Litomysl in 1509. Of the last-named work a unique copy is preserved in the library of the Bohemian museum; of the others little is known except the fact that they existed. Martin Luther, who always considered the Bohemian reformer as his forerunner, in 1536 published at Wittenberg a translation of four of Hus's Bohemian letters; among them was the famed “ Letter to the Whole Bohemian Nation.” The translation was in German and Latin. A year later a larger collection of Hus's letters was printed under the influence of Luther, who wrote an introduction. The best early editions of Hus's works, though they are incomplete and, on the other hand, included many writings that are not by the master, are those published at Nuremberg. The Bohemian works were printed in 1563 and in 1592, the Latin ones in 1558 and again in 1715.4 These editions for many years were the standard
1 See Chapter IX.
2 It is probable that this occurred even much earlier. Thus John Stokes at the Council of Constance referred to a treatise which had been shown to him at Prague as a work of Hus. Hus had no connection whatever with this treatise.
3 This introduction was reprinted with the editions of the Latin works published in 1558 and 1715.
* I have used the edition of 1715 when quoting Hus's Latin works.