Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/460

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judgment. The tender care for the safety of witnesses even went so far that it was left to the conscience of the inquisitor whether or not to give the accused a copy of the evidence itself if there appeared to be danger to be apprehended from doing so. Relieved from all supervision, and practically not subject to appeals, it may be said that there were no rules which the inquisitor might not suspend or abrogate at pleasure when the exigencies of the faith seemed to require it.[1]

Among the many evils springing from this concealment, which released witnesses and accusers from all responsibility, not the least was the stimulus which it afforded to delation and the templtation created to gratify malice by reckless perjury. Even without any special desire to do mischief, an unfortunate, whose resolution han been broken down by suffering and torture, when brought at last to confess, might readily be led to make his story as satisfactory as possible to his tormentors by mentioning all names that might occur to him as being present at conventicles and heretications. There can be no question that the business of the Inquisition was greatly increased by the protection which it thus afforded to informers and enemies, and that it was made the instrument of an immense amount of false-witness. The inquisitors felt this danger and frequently took such precautions as they could without trouble, by warning a witness of the penalties incurred by perjury, making him obligate himself in advance to endure them, adn rigidly questioning him as to whether he had been suborned. Occaionally, also, we find a conscientious judge like Bernard Goi carefully sifting evidence, comparing the testimony of different witnesses, and tracing out incompatibilities which proved that one at least was false. He accomplished this twice, once in 1312 and again in 1316, the earlier case presenting some peculiar features. A man named Pons Arnaud came forward spontaneously and accused his son Pierre of having endeavored to have him hereticated when laboring under apparently mortal sickness. The son denied it. Bernard, on investigation, found that Pons had not been sick at the date specified, and that there had been no heretics at the place named. Armed with this informa-

  1. Responsa Prudentu (Doat, XXXVII.).- Bernardi Comens. Lucerna Inquis, s. v. Tradere.-Zanchini Tract. de Hcret. c. ix.