4 NOVEMBER 1916, Page 8


Ma. GORHAM'S new book on the Inquisition in Spain has a fearful fascination. It seems to us not so much an indictment of Roman Catholicism as an indictment of human nature, and the reader shuts the book wondering how humanity can ever be cleared of the stain. In Spain the Inquisition was popular. It is true that Torquemada went in terror of his life ; but the auto-de-fe was a popular institution, and apparently greatly enjoyed. It was the bull-fight of the period—and such a long period. Inaugurated in 1233, it was not wholly done away with until 1834, its last victim being executed tcnyears before that. In spite of occasional burnings, its ferocity had died down considerably long before it came to an end ; but that it should have existed, even in semblance, till the birth of those whom this generation has known and spoken to seems incredible. In what proportions race hatred, fanaticism, Satanic greed, and base political intrigue accounted for its acts Mr. Gorham does not attempt to decide. He dwells upon the grotesque horror of its procedure, and the terrible theatricality of its gala tragedies, but he does not hide its few redeeming points.

The prisons of the Inquisition compared favourably with the secular prisons, at any rate in Spain, all through its history. It did not torture in pursuit of evidence more than thirty or forty per cent. of its victims, and in 1612 it drew up, after careful investigation, a Report upon witch- craft immensely in advance, from a humanitarian point of view, of the other countries in Europe. The strange thing is that the extreme injustice of its ordinary procedure did not disgust even a populace whom bloodshed pleased for its own sake when the fighting element was wanting and those who bled were innocent and defenceless. Conscious. ness of a common ignorance did not prove a bond of sympathy between the simple orthodox and the simple heretical Spaniard. The orthodox man was content to see the Church crush the simplest misbeliever. "On the one side was the trained intellect determined to prove guilt, on the other was the desperate effort of ignorant men and women to disprove accusations never formulated in detail." The proceedings were secret, but the system of injustice might have been well known. " No kinsman to the fourth degree might speak for the defence ; no Jew, Morisco, or New Christian could appear for him [the accused], -though they were welcomed by the prosecution."

Small official positions under the Holy Office were eagerly sought, and the officials well paid out of the confiscation fund. Besides these the Inquisitors had scores of " Familiars," who were not paid, but enjoyed many exemptions, and seemed to have lived chiefly by blackmail. The insolence of these men did at times rouse the populace and stir the Holy Office to keep them within bounds. Literature was crippled, com- merce hindered, and the public conscience depraved by those inhuman creatures, for scoundrels and fanatics alike were inhuman ; yet they were allowed to continue their work. Now, as we read, we incline to one explanation and then to another. Race hatred seems the meat probable, yet the great national hero—the Cid—fought on both sides, and scores, even of the Royal Houses, married Moors, while • The Spank* Ingssisitiers. By Charles T. Gorham. London . Watts and Co. Ile. ed. sat.1

intermarriages among the merchant class were common. There is no complete explanation, and human nature never ought to forgive itself for the long life of the Inquisition.