Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/304

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290
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of the courtyard were swept up into a white cloth. He was chained hand and foot, maintaining a sullen silence and refusing to answer questions.

The affair, of course, excited the utmost horror. The young king, Philip IV, then only five months on the throne, sent his favorite, Count Olivares, to ascertain for him the facts, and the papal nuncio eagerly sought the details to report them to Rome. The archiepiscopal vicar, Diego Vela, was at first disposed to take a rationalistic view of the matter: he asserted the insanity of his prisoner, and proposed to discharge him, doubtless thinking it wiser to assume that no Spaniard in his senses could be capable of an offence so heinous. He was soon, however, made to understand that this would not be allowed, and it came near bringing him into trouble. The Holy Office asserted its jurisdiction over a case of heresy so flagrant; on the 23d Vela surrendered Benito to the Supreme Council of the Inquisition, and he was sent to the tribunal of Toledo (for as yet there was none in Madrid), with orders that his trial should be pushed with all expedition—an urgency that was soon after twice repeated, with the significant addition that the king took special interest in the matter and desired to know its progress.

The Toledan inquisitors were prompt and zealous. The dilatory and cumbersome forms of procedure were hurried as rapidly as the traditions of the tribunal would permit, and in exactly two months, on November 33d, they were ready to pronounce sentence. Yet the end was still far off. In his examinations Benito had been made to give the details of his life. He was forty-three years old, born at Camprodon of an Old Christian father and a mother who had Jewish blood in her veins—a fact which told heavily against him. His father, who was a cloth-shearer, took him, at the age of thirteen, to Montserrat and placed him with an uncle, a chaplain in the monastery, who in six months sent him back to his father in Barcelona. For some time he served as page to persons of quality, and finally Don Bernardo Terres took him to Flanders, when the Cardinal Archduke, Albert of Austria, went thither in 1595. There he had a succession of masters, with one of whom he returned through France to Catalonia. Filled with desire for a religious life, in 1603 he entered the Barefooted Carmelite convent of Mataron as a novice, but was expelled in about six months. After vainly seeking to join the Carthusians of Monte Alegre and the Jeronymites of Murta, at last the Observantine Franciscans of Barcelona gave him the habit, but deprived him of it in about eight months. Then two years were spent in study at Tarragona, which he left in 1606, and since then he had led a wandering life in pious pilgrimages. He had offered his devotions at the shrine of his