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cious credulity, as well as for exceedingly elevated notions of the prerogatives and actual authority of a German emperor.
To proceed, however, with the Captain's narrative. "Yet," he goes on, "it pleased God that, anno 1626, a German gentleman named Casparus Van Sparr, with whom, in the time of my staying in Germany about King James's business, I became very familiarly known and acquainted, having occasion to build upon the old foundation of an house wherein his grandfather dwelt at that time when the said edict was published in Germany for the burning of the foresaid books, and digging deep into the ground under the said old foundation, one of the said original printed books was there happily found, lying in a deep obscure hole, being wrapped in a strong linen cloth, which was waxed all over with bees' wax within and without, whereby the book was preserved fair and without any blemish."
As ill luck would have it, however, a Catholic prince, Ferdinand II, was still at the head of the Empire; and at one time certainly this hero of the Thirty Years' war had his foot pretty firmly planted upon the neck of the Protestants throughout the greater part of Germany. According to the Captain, his friend Sparr, thinking it dangerous in such times to retain the precious book, which he had found, in his own possession, contrived to export it to England, accompanied with a letter to him (Bell), narrating the story of its discovery, and earnestly recommending to him the good work of setting about its translation into his mother tongue. "Whereupon," continues Bell, "I took the said book before me, and many times began to translate the same, but always was hindered therein, being called upon about other business; insomuch that by no possible means I could remain by that work. Then, about six weeks after I had received the said book, it fell out, that I being in bed with my wife, one night between twelve and one of the clock, she being asleep, but myself yet awake, there appeared unto me an ancient man, standing at my bed's side, arrayed all in white, having a long and broad white beard hanging down to his girdle-steed, who, taking me by my right ear, spake these words following unto me: 'Sirrah, will not you take time to translate that book which is sent unto you out of Germany? I will shortly provide for you both place and time to do it.' And then he vanished away out of my sight. Whereupon, being much thereby affrighted, I fell into an extreme sweat, insomuch that my wife awaking and finding me all over wet, she asked me what I ailed? I told her what I had seen and heard. But I never did heed nor regard visions nor dreams, and so the same soon fell out of my mind. Then about a fortnight after I had seen that vision, on a Sunday, I went to Whitehall to hear the sermon; after which ended, I returned to my lodging, which was then in King's Street at Westminster, and sitting down to dinner with my wife, two messengers were sent from the whole council-board, with a warrant to carry me to the keeper of the Gatehouse, Westminster, there to be safely kept until further order from the lords of the council; which was done without showing me any cause at all wherefore I was committed. (Whatsoever was pretended, yet the true cause of the Captain's commitment was because he was urgent with the Lord Treasurer for his arrears: which, amounting to a great sum, he was not willing to pay; and to be freed from his claims, he clapt him up in prison.—Marginal Note.) Upon which said warrant I was kept there ten whole years close prisoner; where I spent five years thereof about the translating of the said book; insomuch as I found the words very true which the old man in the foresaid vision did say unto me, / will shortly provide for you both place and time to translate it."
Soon after he had finished his task, Archbishop Laud, having, it seems, heard of what he was about, sent to him his chaplain Dr. Bray, with a message that he should deliver up both the translation and the original work. At first Bell refused to part with either; but on the Archbishop sending to him again the next day, and promising that the greatest care should be taken of the books, knowing, as he says, that his Grace "would take them, nolens volens," he let them go. In two months after, Bray came again to him, with a present from the Archbishop of ten pounds in gold, and a message highly commending the work, "yet saying, that some things therein were fitting to be left out." It was two years after this, however, before Bell was able to get the books out of his Grace's hands; and then he only obtained them, according to his own account, by threatening to bring the matter before the parliament, which was about to be called. On giving them back to him, Laud accompanied them with a present of forty pounds more in gold, and also a promise that he would immediately engage the King to get the translation printed; a sufficiently meek return, it must be allowed, to the gallant Captain's menaces. Bell was very soon after set at liberty, "by a warrant," as he expresses it, "from the whole House of Lords, according to his Majesty's direction in that behalf." The Archbishop's troubles however, which quickly brought him to the scaffold, now commenced, and put an end to all Bell's expectations from that quarter.
All this we may take as intended by the worthy bookmaker to engage the church party in support of his production. He next addresses himself in the same style to the parliamentary and dissenting interests. The House of Commons, he tells us, having heard of the matter, sent to him to desire his attendance before a committee which they appointed to inquire into it. We take it for granted that this is merely his way of stating the fact that such a committee had been appointed on his own application, as in all probability it was in this way also that Laud's attention had been called to the subject, if indeed the part of the story relating to his Grace be not from beginning to end as mere an invention as that of the old man with the broad white beard, and all the rest that goes before it. However, the committee having heard what he had to say, eventually, on the suggestion of their chairman, Sir Edward Dealing, determined to call in the assistance of a Mr. Paul Amiraut, " a learned 'minister beneficed in Essex, who had lived long in England, but was born in High Germany, in the Palatinate." The papers were afterwards submitted, along with Mr. Amiraut's report, to two members of the Assembly of Divines, which was then sitting,—Mr. Charles Herle and Mr. Edward Corbet; and they having reported in favour of the translation, " the House," says the Captain, "did give order for the printing thereof."
Upon reference, however, to the documents, this turns out to be something more than an embellishment of the truth. The Keport of Herle and Corbet, which is dated 10th November 1646, says, "We find many excellent and divine things are contained in the book, worthy the light and public view; amongst which, Luther professeth that he acknowledgeth his error which he formerly held touching the real presence corporaliter in coana Domini. But we find withal many impertinent things—some things which will require a grain or two of salt, and some things which will require a marginal note or a preface." The House gave no order upon this for the printing of the book; but, some time after, the usual licence was obtained by the translator in the form simply of a grant, under the authority of both Houses, of the whole right and profits of printing it for the term of fourteen years. From some letters which are subjoined, it appears that strong efforts had been in vain made to induce parliament to go farther, and to affix the stamp of its authority upon the publication. All this seems to have occasioned some delay in bringing it out. The Captain's statement is dated the 3rd of July 1650; but it was not till the year 1652 that the work at length appeared, in a folio volume of nearly six hundred pages, with the following title :—" Drs. Martini Lutheri Colloquia Mensalia; or, Dr. Martin Luther's Divine Discourses at his Table, &c. which in his life he held with divers Learned Men,