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Capella of Cremona, who, though a celebrated mafter of that science,, confeffed himself in a very little time unable to give his pupil farther instructions.
As Capella was of the Order of the Servites, his fcholar was induced, by his acquaintance with him, to engage in the fame profeffion, though his uncle and his mother represented to him the hardships and aufterities of that kind of life, and advised him with great zeal against it. But he was fteady in his refolutions, and in 1566 took the habit of the order, being then only in his 14th year, a time of life in moft perfons very improper for fuch engagements, but in him attended with fuch maturity of thought, and fuch a fettled temper, that he never feemed to regret the choice he then made, and which he confirmed by a folemn publick profeffion in 1572.
At a general chapter of the Servites, held at Mantua, Paul (for fo we shall now call him) being then only twenty years old, diftinguished himself fo much in a publick difputation by his genius and learning, that William duke of Mantua, a great patron of letters, folicited the confent of his fuperiors to retain him at his court, and not only made him publick profeffor of divinity in the cathedral,; but honoured him with many proofs of his efteem.
But Father Paul, finding a court life not agreeable to his temper, quitted it two years afterwards, and retired to his beloved privacies, being then not only acquainted with the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Chaldee languages, but with philofophy, the mathematicks, canon and civil law, all parts of natural philofophy, and chemistry itself; for his application was unintermitted, his head clear, his apprehenfion quick, and his memory retentive.
Being made a priest at twenty-two, he was diftinguished by the illuftrious cardinal Borromeo with his confidence, and employed by him on many occasions, not without the envy of perfons of lefs merit, who were so far exafperated as to lay a charge against him, before the inquifition, for denying that the Trinity could be proved from the first chapter of Genefis; but the accufation was too ridiculous to be taken notice of.
After this he paffed fucceffively through the dignities of his order, and in the intervals of his employment applied himself to his ftudies with fo extensive a capacity, as left no branch of knowledge untouched. By him Acquependente, the great anatomift, confeffes that he was informed how vifion is performed; and there are proofs that he was not a ftranger to the cir culation of the blood. He frequently converfed upon aftronomy with mathematicians, upon anatomy with furgeons, upon medicine with phyficians, and with chemists upon the analysis of metals, not as a fuperficial enquirer, but as a complete mafter.
But the hours of repofe, that he employed fo well, were interrupted by a new information in the inquiftion, where a former acquaintance produced a letter written by him in cyphers, in which he faid, "that "he detefted the court of Rome, and that no pre"ferment was obtained there but by dishoneft means.' This accufation, however dangerous, was paffed over on account of his great reputation, but made fuch impreffion on that court, that he was afterwards denied a bishoprick by Clement VIII. After thefe difficulties were furmounted, Father Paul again retired to his folitude, where he appears, by fome writings drawn up by him at that time, to have turned his attention more
to improvements in piety than learning. Such was the care with which he read the fcriptures, that, it being his custom to draw a line under any paffage which he intended more nicely to confider, there was not a fingle word in his New Teftament but was underlined; the fame marks of attention appeared in his Old Testament, Pfalter, and Breviary.
But the most active scene of his life began about the year 1615, when Pope Paul Vth, exafperated by fome decrees of the fenate of Venice that interfered with the pretended rights of the church, laid the whole state under an interdict.
The fenate, filled with indignation at this treatment, forbade the bishops to receive or publish the Pope's bull; and convening the rectors of the churches, commanded them to celebrate divine fervice in the accustomed manner, with which moft them readily complied; but the Jefuits and fome others refufing, were by a folemn edict expelled the state.
Both parties, having proceeded to extremities, employed their ableft writers to defend their measures : on the Pope's fide, among others, Cardinal Bellarmine entered the lifts, and with his confederate authors defended the papal claims with great fcurrility of expreffion, and very fophiftical reasonings, which were confuted by the Venetian apologists in much more decent language, and with much greater folidity of argument.
On this occafion Father Paul was moft eminently diftinguished, by his Defence of the Rights of the fupreme Magiftrate, his Treatife of Excommunication tranflated from Gerfon, with an Apology, and other writings, for ch he was cited before the inquifition at
Rome; but it may be easily imagined that he did not obey the fummons.
The Venetian writers, whatever might be the abilities of their adverfaries, were at least fuperior to them in the justice of their caufe. The propofitions maintained on the fide of Rome were thefe: That the Pope is invested with all the authority of heaven and earth. That all princes are his vaffals, and that he may annul their laws at pleasure. That kings may appeal to him, as he is temporal monarch of the whole earth. That he can discharge fubjects from their oaths of allegiance, and make it their duty to take up arms against their fovereign. That he may depofe kings without any fault committed by them, if the good of the church requires it: that the clergy are exempt from. all tribute to kings, and are not accountable to them even in cafes of high-treafon. That the Pope cannot err: that his decifions are to be received and obeyed on pain of fin, though all the world fhould judge them to be false that the Pope is God upon earth; that his fentence and that of God are the fame; and that to call his power in question, is to call in queftion the power: of God: maxims equally fhocking, weak, pernicious, and abfurd! which did not require the abilities or learning of Father Paul, to demonftrate their falfhood, and destructive tendency.
It may be easily imagined that fuch principles were quickly overthrown, and that no court but that of Rome thought it for its intereft to favour them. The Pope, therefore, finding his authors confuted, and his cause abandoned, was willing to conclude the affair by treaty, which, by the mediation of Henry IV. of France, was accommodated upon terms very much to the honour of the Venetians.
But the defenders of the Venetian rights were, though comprehended in the treaty, excluded by the Romans from the benefit of it; fome upon different pretences were imprisoned, fome fent to the galleys, and all debarred from preferment. But their malice was chiefly aimed against Father Paul, who foon found the effects of it; for as he was going one night to his convent, about fix months after the accommodation, he was attacked by five ruffians armed with ftilettoes, who gave him no lefs than fifteen ftabs, three of which wounded him in fuch a manner, that he was left for dead, The murderers fled for refuge to the nuncio, and were afterwards received into the Pope's dominions, but were purfued by divine juftice, and all, except one man who died in prifon, perifhed by violent deaths.
This and other attempts upon his life obliged him to confine himself to his convent, where he engaged in writing the History of the Council of Trent, a work unequalled for the judicious difpofition of the matter, and artful texture of the narration, commended by Dr. Burnet as the completeft model of hiftorical writing, and celebrated by Mr. Wotton as equivalent to any production of antiquity; in which the reader finds
Liberty without licentioufnefs, piety without hypo"crify, freedom of fpeech without neglect of decency, "feverity without rigour, and extenfive learning without oftentation."
In this, and other works of lefs confequence, he spent the remaining part of his life, to the beginning of the year 1622, when he was feized with a cold and fever, which he neglected till it became incurable. He languished more than twelve months, which he fpent almost wholly in a preparation for his paffage into