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Capella of Cremona, who, though a celebrated master of chat science,, confessed himself in a very little time unable to give his pupil farther instructions.
As Capella was of the Order of the Servites, his scholar was induced, by his acquaintance with him, to engage in the same profession, though his uncle and his mother represented to hiin the hardships and austerities of that kind of life, and advised him with great zeal against it. But he was steady in his resolutions, and in 1566 took the habit of the order, being then only in his 14th year, a time of life in most persons very improper for such engagements, but in him attended with such maturity of thought, and such a settled temper, that he never seemed to regret the choice he then made, and which he confirmed by a solemn publick profession in 1572.
At a general chapter of the Servites, held at Mantua, Paul (for so we shall now call him) being then only twenty years old, distinguished himself so much in a publick disputation by his genius and learning, that William duke of Mantua; a great patron of letters, solicited the consent of his superiors to retain him at his court, and not only made him publick professor of divinity in the cathedral, but honoured him with many proofs of his esteem.
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 philosophy, the mathematicks, canon and civil law, all parts of natural philosophy, and chemistry itself; for his application was unintermitted, his head clear, his apprehension quick, and his memory retentive.
Being made a priest at twenty-two, he was distin. guished by the illustrious cardinal Borromeo with his confidence, and employed by him on many occasions, not without the envy of persons of less merit, who were so far exasperated as to lay a charge against him, before the inquisition, for denying that the Trinity could be proved from the first chapter of Genesis ; but the accusation was too ridiculous to be taken notice of.
After this he paffed successively through the dignities of his order, and in the intervals of his employment applied himfelf to his studies with so extensive a capacity, as left no branch of knowledge untouched. By him Acquependente, the great anatomift, confesses that he was informed how vision is performed; and there are proofs that he was not a stranger to the cir, culation of the blood. He frequently conversed upon aftronomy with mathematicians, upon anatomy with furgeons, upon medicine with physicians, and with chemists upon the analyfis of metals, not as a superficial enquirer, but as a complete mafter.
But the hours of repose, that he employed so well, were interrupted by a new information in the inquisition, where a former acquaintance produced a letter written by him in cyphers, in which he said, “ that “ he detested the court of Rome, and that no pre“ ferment was obtained there but by dishonest means." This accusation, however dangerous, was passed over on account of his great reputation, but made such impreffion on that court, that he was afterwards denied a bishoprick by Clement VIII. After these difficulties were surmounted, 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 scriptures, that, it being his custom to draw a line under any passage which he intended more nicely to consider, there was not a single word in his New Testament but was underlined; the same 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, exasperated by fome decrees of the senate of Venice that interfered with the pretended rights of the church, laid the whole state under an interdiet.
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 service in the accustomed manner, with which most them readily complied; but the Jesuits and fome others refusing, were by a folemn edict expelled the state.
Both parties, having proceeded to extremities, employed their ablest writers to defend their measures : on the Pope's side, among others, Cardinal Bellarmine entered the lifts, and with his confederate authors defended the papal claims with great scurrility of expression, and very sophistical reasonings, which were confuted by the Venetian apologists in much more decent language, and with much greater solidity of arguinent.
On this occasion Father Paul was most eminently distinguished, by his Defence of the Rights of the sun preme Magistrate, his Treatise of Excommunication tranflated from Gerson, with an Apology, and other writings, forsrh he was cited before the inquisition at
Rome ; but it may be easily imagined that he did not obey the summons.,
The Venetian writers, whatever might be the abilicies of their adversaries, were at least superior to them in the justice of their cause. The propositions maintained on the side of Rome were these: That the Pope is invested with all the authority of heaven and earth. That all princes are his vassals, 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 subjects from their oaths of allegiance, and make it their duty to take up arms against their sovereign. That he may depose 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 cases of high-treason. That the Pope cannot err : that his decisions are to be received and obeyed on pain of fin, though all the world should judge them to be false : that the Pope is God upon earth; that his sentence and that of God are the same; and that to call bis power in question, is to call in question the power: of God: maxims equally shocking, weak, pernicious, and absurd! which did not require the abilities or learning of Father Paul, to demonstrate their falfhood, and destructive tendency.
It may be easily imagined that such principles were quickly overthrown, and that no court but that of Rome thought it for its interest 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 terins very much to the honour of the Venetians. Y 3
But the defenders of the Venetian rights were, though comprehonded in the treaty, excluded by the Romans from the benefit of it; some upon different pretences were imprisoned, some sent 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 six months after the accommodation, he was attacked by five ruffians armed with stilettoes, who, gave him no less than fifteen stabs, three of which wounded him in such a manrer, 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 pursued by divine justice, and all, except one man who died in prison, perished 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 disposition of the matter, and artful texture of the narration, commended by Dr. Burnet as the completest model of historical writing, and celebrated by Mr. Wotton as equivalent to any production of antiquity; in which the reader finds " Liberty without licentiousness, piety without hypo“ crisy, freedom of speech without neglect of decency,
severity without rigour, and extenlive learning without oftentation."
In this, and other works of less confequence, he spent the remaining part of his life, to the beginning of the year 1622, when he was seized with a cold and fever, which he neglected till it became incurable. He languished more than twelve months, which he spent almost wholly in a preparation for his passage into