20 SEPTEMBER 1873, Page 15



SIR,—I was rather surprised to see my name drawn into the con- troversy about St. John Nepomucen, and I regret it. My article on that Saint was written before Mr. Wratislaw's critique on the popular story was published, and consequently, I had not the benefit of his investigations.

The truth or falsehood of the story rests on evidence. What I have shown is that 46 years (or thereabout) after the martyrdom of John of Nepomuk, it was popularly reported that he had been put to death because he had refused to reveal the Queen's confes- sion. A contemporary Prague chronicler says that he was killed " because John had remonstrated with the King for his crimes," and Andrew of Ratisbon, in 1422, gives a similar account of the reason for the execution. Thus the matter of the abbey of Kladrau cannot have been the only one which incensed Wencelas against the priest. In 1470, just seventy-seven years after the execution, the story was believed in Prague that John Nepomuk had been drowned because he had refused to reveal the Queen's confession, for Paul Zidek, the dean, mentions it. Such a tradition probably had some basis of truth to support it ; there seems no reason for its having sprung up out of nothing.

But all the details rest on the authority of Hagec (A.D. 1540) and Balbinus (A.D. 1670). Whether these writers drew from their imagination for their facts, or had real documentary evidence for what they advanced, can only be ascertained by some one who has access to unpublished MS. materials for Bohemian history, in the Prague and other libraries ; and certainly the opinion of Palacky is of great weight. I am wholly incompetent to decide, or even express an opinion on this question, which must he settled among Bohemian scholars.—I am, Sir, &c.,