Travel Writing – Part 2

December 11, 2007

The account continues with disapproval of Jansenia’s unorthodox expansionism. The people are so zealous for their faith that they appoint female missionaries. The ‘agents’ of their religion go undercover and establish a good reputation before revealing their true opinions.

To give renown to their preachers, they draw to their sermons certain folks, instructed in all such gestures as may testifie a rapture in them, that ’tis impossible to Preach better; yea, they take care that many Coaches may be seen at the Gates of the Churches where the Sermon is, and that the Coachmen make a great ratling.

The invective continues with a description of the harm done by Jansenist theology at the sociological level. People are taught that there are times when resistance to sin is not in their power. Such thinking has led to the spoiling of many young women. Returning to the Eucharist:

They suffer Lay-people to receive under one kind, but many among them affirme that the contrary would be much coveted. ‘Tis believed that this light was brought to them from England with other Merchandizes, whereof they made no brags because they were liable to Confiscation.

This is an intriguing paragraph – the cross-fertilization between Jansenism and Reformed theology is still something of an undiscovered country in seventeenth-century scholarship. Of these people who had decided ‘the Air of Rome was no ways wholesome for them’, the writer concludes, ‘the world could not shew joy enough in being rid of such a wicked sect’.

This is a fascinating book which takes an unconventional literary approach to get the point across. Reminds me of More’s Utopia in some respects. The figurative map is an unusual device, probably inspired by La Carte de Tendre in Madeleine de Scudéry’s novel Clélie published just a few years before:


 

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