Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bathe, William

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BATHE, WILLIAM (1564–1614), jesuit, was born at Dublin on Easter Sunday, 1564, being son of John Bathe, a judge, and his wife Eleanora Preston. He belonged to a branch of a very ancient family in the counties of Dublin and Meath, was immediately descended from the Bathes of Dullardston, and was heir to Drumcondra castle. He was brought up in the protestant religion, but, being placed under the care of a catholic tutor, he imbibed the principles of catholicism, to which he afterwards always adhered. Wood tells us that he studied for several years in Oxford University with indefatigable industry, but it does not appear of what college or hall he was a member, or whether he took a degree. Afterwards, ‘under pretence of being weary with the heresy professed in England,’ he withdrew to the continent, was admitted to the Society of Jesus at Courtrai by Father Duras, provincial of Belgium, and entered the novitiate of Tournai in 1595 or 1596. He studied at Louvain and Padua; was then appointed rector of the Irish college at Salamanca; and died at Madrid on 17 June 1614, just as he was about to retreat to the court of Philip III. Wood says ‘he was endowed with a most ardent zeal for the obtaining of souls, and was beloved of, and respected by, not only those of his own order, but of other orders, for his singular virtues and excellencies of good conditions.’

His works are:

  1. ‘A brief Introduction to the true Art of Musicke, wherein are set downe exact and easie rules for such as seeke but to know the trueth, with arguments and their solutions, for such as seeke also to know the reason of the trueth; which rules be meanes whereby any by his owne industrie may shortly, easily, and regularly attaine to all such thinges as to this art do belong; to which otherwise any can hardly attaine without tedious difficult practise, by meanes of the irregular order now used in teaching.’ Lond. 1584, small obl. 4to, black letter. Dedicated to his uncle, Gerald Fitzgerald, earl of Kildare. This work the author wrote over again in such a manner as scarcely to retain a single paragraph of the original edition. The second edition is entitled ‘A briefe Introduction to the Skill of Song: concerning the practise. In which work is set downe x. sundry wayes of 2. parts in one upon the plain song. Also a Table newly added of the comparisons of cleves, how one followeth another for the naming of notes; with other necessarie examples to further the learner,’ Lond. n. d. 8vo. Sir John Hawkins says these books are written in an obscure style, and the best that can be said of the rules is that there is nothing like them to be met with in any other work on music.
  2. ‘Janua Linguarum, seu modus maxime accommodatus quo patefit ad omnes linguas intelligendas.’ Salamanca, 1611, 4to. This book, adapted in the first instance to the Latin language, was published by the care of the Irish Jesuits at Salamanca. Subsequently it was edited about twenty times, and once in eight languages. An English version appeared under the title of ‘Janua Linguarum quadrilinguis, or a messe of tongues; Latine, English, French, and Hispanish, with 1200 proverbes in the above languages,’ Lond. [1617?] 4to. From a German edition, John Comenius took the idea and the general plan of his famous book published under the same title. One of the censors of the original work, a professor in the university of Salamanca, testifies that by this method he has seen scholars make, in three months, as much progress in the study of Latin as others made in three years by the usual mode of learning the rudiments.
  3. ‘Appareios para administrar el Sacramento de la Penitencia,’ Milan, 1614; published by Father Joseph Cresswell, under the name of Peter Manrique.
  4. ‘A methodical Institution concerning the chief Mysteries of Christian Religion,’ in English and Latin.
  5. ‘Method for the Performing of general Confession.’
  6. ‘Mercurius Bilinguis. Hoc est nova facilisque ratio Latinæ vel Italicæ linguæ intra vertentem annum addiscendæ in usum eorum, qui alterutram linguam intelligunt,’ Venice, 1659, 8vo.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (ed. Bliss), ii. 146; Biog. Brit. ed. Kippis; Ware's Writers of Ireland (ed. Harris), 101; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (ed. Herbert), 1021, 1161; Foley's Records, vii. 41; Hogan's Cat. of Irish Jesuits, 9; Oliver's Jesuit Collections, 233; Southwell's Bibl. Scriptorum Soc. Jesu, 313; Backer's Bibl. des Ecrivains de la Compagnie de Jésus (1869), i. 446; Biog. Universelle; Irish Ecclesiastical Record, x. 524–7; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. ed. Bohn; Hawkins's Hist. of Music, iii. 356–60.]

T. C.