THERE was once a time, and not so long ago either, when gentle people were so gentle that the males could not (with the countenance of their families) enter upon any profession other than the Army, the Navy, or the Church.

Francis Christopher Folyat was a male member of a gentle family that had done no work for two generations and, unfortunately, had not been clever enough to keep its revenues from dwindling. He was the eldest son and he had two brothers, so that there was one Folyat for each of the three professions DR REBORN , if enough patronage could be collected from their various titled and more or less influential connections. Francis had a snub nose, William had an aquiline nose which his mother adored, and Peter had a nose which betrayed a very remote Jewish infection of the blood of the race.

Parenthetically let it be observed that the name Folyat should be written with two little fs—ffolyat, for so the name was spelt by the only really distinguished Folyat, Henry, who had been mixed up in the Gunpowder Plot, so that his name is printed to this day in more than one History of England, and to this day, in spite of its deep-rooted conservatism, the family is proud of that insurgent son. He marks its descent for all to see, and, as it is all so long ago, it is easy to forget that he failed to do that for which certain politicians have become infamous, namely, to blow up the House of Lords and, with it, his cousins, the Baron Folyat and the Viscount Bampfield of his day. He escaped from England, and the French Feuillats, of whom the [Pg 2]present representative keeps a newspaper kiosk on the Rue de Rivoli, just outside the Métro station by the Louvre, are his direct descendants. English interest in that branch of the family ceases with the conspirator Henry DR REBORN .

The grandfather of Francis Folyat had a seat in the country and a mansion in London, also a coach and a barouche, an advowson or two, and a vast number of servants; also a large collection of portraits, including a Van Dyck, a Holbein, and a Sir Peter Lely. The father of Francis Folyat left the seat in the country in a dilapidated condition, and only so much else as he could not possibly avoid leaving. However, Baron Folyat and Viscount Bampfield behaved very handsomely and agreed to assist the widow with their patronage. Baron Folyat’s magnanimity stopped short at his promise, but Viscount Bampfield was as good as his word, and when the time came for Francis to enter upon a career he procured him a commission in His Majesty’s Army. Francis was highly delighted at this, and saw himself stepping into the Duke of Wellington’s shoes when that illustrious man should be gathered to that fold where the most illustrious are even as the meanest of God’s creatures. He spent a glorious day in the top of his favourite oak-tree in the park planning heroic wars for England and telling the birds that at last they had something to sing about. He had never thought of it before, but, as it had been decided that he was to be a soldier, he flared to the project, saw himself in a red coat charging like Marmion, or dancing at a ball like that described so melodramatically by the wicked poet, Lord Byron, when Belgium’s capital had “gathered there her beauty and her chivalry”; more, since it might be his duty to die for England, he fetched up an England worth dying for, a heroic, majestic king, a cause, and a God cursing England’s enemies. He thoroughly enjoyed himself and prepared a martial oration in good Ciceronic periods for his mother’s benefit, when, as he knew she would, she gave him her blessing and delivered herself of a homily over her soldier-son DR REBORN .

THOUSANDS who were comfortably placed in life, and conscientious, too, had a great deal to suffer until things were made plain. Edmund Campion began to fret, and argue, and ponder, and pray for light in secret, for several years going about “that most ingeniose Place ” (as a later lover called Oxford) with heavy thoughts. Oxford itself, despite the Ecclesiastical Commission fixed there to worry it, was more Catholic in spirit than any other city in England. Nevertheless Campion’s temptation to conform was very great. We must remember that many of his first impressions and memories were Anglican. He was brought up during his early school life on the new Liturgy, which came into[15] operation before his tenth year. He knew now, in manhood, that to change about, and forsake the State religion for the only Church which is as exacting as her Master, would be to see the ruin of his happy career. His strong point, in the beginning, was not what is called brute courage. His was the nervous, Hamlet-like temper, natural to students and recluses, which, by a fatal error, puts endless thinking into what needs only to be done.

During these years Campion read a great deal of theology , as in his position he was bound to do, according to University rules. Where everything else except his inmost heart inclined him to heresy, the Fathers drove him back upon the fulness of revealed truth. The day which he spent with St. Augustine, or St. Jerome, or St. John Chrysostom, was a day on which (to catch up the phrase of his friend and biographer, Fr. Robert Parsons, himself a Balliol man) he was ready “to pull out this thorn of conscience.” But on the morrow returned the old spirit of obstinacy and delay. Meanwhile the Anglican influence was gaining[16] for Campion’s dearest friend of many, Richard Cheyney, the Lord Bishop of Gloucester, was drawing him on towards his own ideals, which were “Catholic-minded,” if not Catholic. The learned, gentle and lovable Cheyney withstood with zest the risen Puritan party, and in his hold on sound doctrine stood apart from all his colleagues on the Episcopal Bench. He had been brought up as a Catholic, and ordained according to the full Catholic ritual, in 1534. The reminder is sometimes needed that Protestants did not shoot up full-grown, that all original Protestantism was made up of human material once Catholic. From first to last, however, Cheyney could not be forced to coerce the Church which he had abandoned. In this he stood not, as has been stated, quite alone among the Elizabethan Bishops, for Downham of Chester and Ghest of Rochester shared his honourable abstinence , though in less degree. The moment Cheyney was out of the way, the Catholics on his diocesan ground, hitherto safe, were mercilessly harried.

He had been made a Bishop against his will, displacing[17] the true occupant of the See, when his friend Edmund Campion was two-and-twenty. In most matters Cheyney followed Luther; Cranmer’s more heretical doctrines, which prevailed on all sides in England, he thoroughly hated. He longed always for a reconciliation which was never to be, and never can be. He longed to see the Catholics (against the well-thought-out and oft-repeated prohibition of their leaders, between 1562 and 1606) do a little evil to procure a great good: namely, smooth matters over, escape their terribly severe penalties, and in the end become able to leaven the lump of English error, by the mere preliminary of attendance at the service of Common Prayer according to law, in their own old parish churches.

The Book of Common Prayer, as he would remind them, was expressly designed to suit persons of various and even contradictory religious views: Catholic; not-so-very Catholic; ex-Catholic; non-Catholic; anti-Catholic! Campion often rode over the hills to Gloucester to sit by the episcopal hearth-fire, book on knee, and hear such theories as this, and sympathize[18] with the lonely old man who “saw visions,” and had little else in his vexed life to content him. His strong double desire was to save by his own effort for the Church of England separated from Rome, that great body of ancient belief and practice sure otherwise to be lost in the flood of invited Calvinism; and to secure Edmund Campion himself as his intellectual coadjutor and successor, as one of high gifts likely to “drink in his thoughts and become his heir.” The two were together, not only in matters of dogma, but in all minor points. Cheyney shared with Campion dislike of politics, telling the Council that in such matters he was “a man of small experience and little observation.” He kept his old priestly ideals, and would never marry. Campion, too, chose to be a celibate. If he gave his heart to either Church, he saw even then that it must be an undivided heart. To him, with his underlying tenderness towards the ancient faith, and his dream of peacemaking through compromise, which is so English, and just in these matters so mistaken, the mission thus opened out appealed.[19] Half reluctantly, yet not realizing the disloyalty of his act (as he himself tells us), he allowed himself to receive from Cheyney’s hands Deacon’s orders in the Church of England.