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DR. ACHILLI AND DR. NEWMAN., New Zealander, Volume 8, Issue 651, 10 July 1852
DR. ACHILLI AND DR. NEWMAN.
Cofcnr of Queen's Bench, Westbthster Nov. &. (Sittings in Banco, before Lord Campbell and Justices Patteson and Wightman.) RISGIN\ (EXPARTE DU. ACUILLI) Y. BURNS & LAMBERT.
Sir F. Thesiger (with whom was Mr. Francis Ellis) said he was instructed to move for a rule calling on James Burns and Thomas Lambert, the publishers, to show cause why a criminal information should not be filed against them for the publication of a libel contained in a pamphlet entitled "Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England, addressed to the Brothers of the Oratory, by John Henry Newman, D.D., priest of the congregation of St. Phillip Neri." The present application was made on the part of Dr. Giovanni Giacinto Achilli, in consequence of some strong and unwarrantable reflections which the pamphlet contained upon his moral character. Dr. Achilli slated that he has been resident in this country since the month of March, 1850, and, since the month of May, 1850, he had been a minister and preacher of the Gospel at (he Kalian Protestant Chapel in Dufour's-place, Broad-slrcet, Golden-square. He also staled that by birth he was an Italian, having been born at Vilcrbo, in the Roman States, and was educated in the Roman Catholic failh. Al the age of 46, he, in the year 1819, entered the Dominican convent La Quercia, at Vilerbo, as a novice ; and, after a year's noviciate he professed himself a monk of the Dominican order. In the year 1820 ho received priest's orders, by a special dispensation granted by Pope Leo XII., at the request of the Duke of Lucca ; and in the year 1833 he obtained the degree of •' Magisler Sacraj Theologies" in the College of Minerva, at Rome, a degree which was equivalent to that of Doctor of Divinity in this country. In the year 1829 he began to entertain doubts as to some of the doctrines of the church of Rome ; but notwithstanding these doubts, he was for some time unwilling to leave that church ; but, in the exercise of his duties as a confessor and preacher, his practice and teaching considerably varied from (he practice and teaching of the church of Rome. In the year 1855, being about to leave Rome for Capua, he solicited from (he Pope leave to secularize, that is, (o leave the monastic life, and to remain a simple priest. That permission, though supported by the Cardinal Archbishop of Capua, was not granted till the year 1839, when, by the permission of the Pope, Dr. Achilli finally separated himself from his order. In the year 1855 he left Rome for Capua ; and, during his residence in that place and at Naples, between that year and the year 1841, his preaching and conversation excited great attention, as well as dislike, from the members of the church of Rome, and particularly from the monks and monasteries of Naples, of whose life he avowed his disapprobation. In the year 1821 he was called by his private affairs to Rome, where he was taken up by the Inquisition, and remained in prison for three months. Al the end of that time he was set at liberty, and in the month of September 1842, he lell Rome for Ancona, and shortly after went to Corfu. From that lime he openly renounced the faith and practices of the Church of Rome. He then, in his affidavit, called attention (o a pamphlet which had been published by Messrs. Burns and Lambci t, and which purported to be the fifth of a course of lectures, delivered by Dr. Newman, a priest of the congregation of St. Neri, on the present position of the Catholics in England, and addressed to the Brothers of the Oratory ; and to a passage to be found at page 197 oi the pamphlet, which the learned counsel read as follows :—: — '' And in the midst of outrages such as these, my Brothers of the Oratory, wiping its mouth, and clasping its hands, and turning up its eyes, it trudges to the town-hall to hear Dr. Achilli expose the Inquisition. Ah! Dr. Achilli, I might have spoken of him last week, had time admitted of it. The Protestant world Hocks to hear him because he has something to tell of the Catholic Church. He has something to tell, it is true — he has a scandal to reveal — he has an argument to exhibit. It is-a simple one, and a powerful one, as far as it goes — and it is one. That one argument is himself— it is his presence which is tlic triumph of Protestants ; it is tho sight of him which is a Catholic's confusion. It is, indeed, our great confusion that our holy mother could have had a priest like him. He feels (he force of Hie argument, and he shows himself to the multitude who is gazing on him. i Mothers of families,' he seems to say, ' gentle maidens, innocent children, look at me, for I am worth looking at. You do not see such a sight every day. Can any church live over the imputation of such a production as I am? I have been a Catholic and an infidel; I have been a Roman priest and an hypocrite ; 1 have been a profligate under a cowl. I am that Father Achilli who, as early as 1 82G, was deprived of my faculty to lecture, for an offence which my superiors did their best to conceal ; and who in 1827 had already earned the reputation of a scandalous friar. lam that Achilli who, in the diocese of Vilerbo, in February, 1831, robbed of her honour a young woman of 18 ; who in September, 1855, was found guilty of a second such" crime, in the case of a person of 28 ; and who perpetrated a third in July, 1854, in the case of another aged 24. lam he who afterwards was found guilty of sins similar or worse, in other towns of the neighbourhood. I am that son of St. Dominic who is known to have repealed the offence a I Capua, in 1854 or 1855 ; and at Naples, again, in 18iO in the case of a child of IS. lam he who chose (lie sacristy of the church for one of these crimes, and Good Friday for another. Look on me, ye mothers of England, a confessor against Popery, for ye ne'er may look upon my like again. lam that veiita!)le priest who, alter all this began to speak against, not only the Catholic faith, but the moral law, and perverted others by my teaching. I am the Cavulierc Achilli who then went to Corfu, made the wife of a tailor faithless to her husband, and lived publicly and travelled about with the wife of a chorus singer. I am that professor in the Protestant College at Malta who, with two others, was dismissed from my post for offences which the authorities cannot get themselves to describe.. And now attend to me, such as I am and you shall see what you shall see about (he barbarity and profligacy of the inquisitors of Rome.' "You speak truly, 0, Achilli, and we cannot answer you a word. You are a priest ; you have been a friar ; you are, it is undeniable, the scandal of Catholicism, and the palmary argument of Prolestants, by your extraordinary depravity. You have been, it is (me, a profligate, an unbeliever, and a hypocrite. Not many years passed of your conventual life, and you were never in choir, always in private houses, so that the laity observed you. You were deprived of your professorship, we own it ; you were prohibited from preaching and hearing confessions ; you were obliged lo giye bushmoney (o the fathers of your victims, as we learn from the official report of the police of A'iterbo. You are reported in an official document of (he Neapolitan police to be l known for habitual ineonlinency.' Your name came before the civil tribunal at Corfu for the crime of adultery. You
have put the crown on your offences by, as long as you could, denying them all. You have professed to seek after truth, when you were ravening after sin. Yes, you are an incontrovertible proof that priests may fail and friars break their vows. You are your own witness ; but, while you need not go out of yourself for your argument, neither are you able. With you the argument begins ; with you it ends ; the beginning and the ending, you arc both. When you have shown yourself, you have done your worst and your all; you arc your best argument and your sole. Your witness against others is utterly invalidated by your witness against yourself : you leave your sling in Ihe wound. You cannot lay the golden eggs, for yon arc already dead." It would be quite unnecessary for him (Sir F. Thesiger) to trespass on the time of the Court by remarking upon the character of this publication. Lord Campbell — The ribaldry with which the passage commences would not be a, sufficient ground for the Court to interfere ; but it certainly imputes specific and gross breaches of morality which justify our interposition. Do you prove the publication ? Sir F. Thesiger said, the publication by the Messrs. Burns and Lambert was proved ; but it would be necessary to explain how it was that Dr. Achilli proceeded against them instead of against Dr. Newman, who appeared to be the author of the pamphlet. In the first instance an application was made to Dr. Newman by Dr. Achilli's attorneys, Messrs. Lyons, Barnes, and Ellis, to know whether he would admit the publication, so as to enable the applicant to proceed against him. To this letter Dr. Newman did not reply ; but some time after a message came from a Mr. Henry Lewin, saying that he (Mr. Lewin) was Dr. Newman's attorney. The applicant's attorneys then wrote to Mr. Lewin to know whether he was instructed by Dr. Newman to admit the publication of the pamphlet, and where he admitted it to be published ? to which application a verbal answer was given by Mr. Lewin, that he had not received his instructions from Dr. Newman, and that he had nothing to admit. Subsequenlly the applicant's attorneys received a letter from Dr. Newman referring them to his lawyer, Mr. Lewin, "who acts for me in the business to which your letter relalcs." A copy of that Idler was then sent to Mr. Lewin, with a request that he would inform the applicant's attorneys whether he was now instructed to admit the publication of the pamphlet, <5Lc, but to that application Mr. Lewin returned a verbal answer, that he had no instructions trom Dr. Newman ; that he (Mr. Lewin) had not read the pamphlet, and could make no admissions. The refusal to make the necessary admissions had thus rendered it necessary to proceed against the publishers. Lord Campbell — Does Dr. Achilli deny the imputations? Sir F. Thesiger said that every specific charge was denied in the most distinct terms ; but there were certain inuendocs contained in the libel to which it would be necessary to refer. As to the charge of living publicly- and travelling about with the wife of a chorus-singer, Dr. Achilli said that while residing at Corfu and Zante he had a servant named Coriboni who he believed had been a chorus-singer, whose wife lived with her husband under his (Dr. Achilli's) roof ; but he distinctly denied that any unbecoming familiarity had subsisted between them. Then it was staled in the libel — " Your name came before the civil tribunal at Corfu for your crime of adultery. 11 In reference to this imputation Dr. Achilli stated that he believed that a tailor at Corfu, named Nicola Garimone, did, in answer to a petition for alimony by his wife, charge the said wife with adultery with a certain Achilli Giacinti — meaning the deponent Dr. Achilli ; but that he believed (hat such charge was not brought before any court whatever, but that the fact of the adultery was alleged in a paper professing to be prepared for the Court in the matter of the said petition : and that the deponent having been made acquainted with the fact that such a charge had been made, expressed his willingness to meet (he said charge in court, but that he never heard that it was brought forward, and believed that it never was 'brought forward. He further distinctly denied that he ever had committed adultery with the wife of the said Nicolo Garimone, or that there was any foundation for such a charge against him. As to his dismissal from the office of professor in the Protestant College at Malta, he stated that he had in fact been dismissed from that office, but that the true ground for his dismissal had been staled in a report of the committee of the Pro lest ant College, and thai that report was published in the Record newspaper on (he 9th of December, 1850, and which repoi I contained the following passages : *' Immediately after Dr. Achilli's appointment various unpleasant statements were made to the committee with reference'to his own past history. These were immediately submitted to Dr. Achilli, and, as they were denied by him, and supported by no sufficient evidence, they were rejected by the committee as unworthy of belief." . . . "It was not until Dr. Achilli interposed to quash the investigation into charges affecting the moral character of several of the priests, by sending his friend Signor Saccares to Sicily, that they (the committee) resolved to drop their connexion with him. His taking such a step was felt by the committee to be an act requiring, apart from the consideration of any statement affecting Dr. Achilli himself, his immediate removal from so responsible a post." Dr. Achilli then staled, that, except so far as the sending away Signor Saccares was concerned, he was not aware that it had ever been alleged that he had been dismissed from his post of professor for any offence unbecoming to describe, or for any affecting his moral character. Dr. Achilli further denied that he had sent away Signor Saccares, but declared that Saccares left voluntarily; and that he, finding that he was going to leave, requested him (o go to Sicily for the purpose of distributing Bibles and tracts. These were the explanations which Dr. Achilli had made upon these points, but, as to all the other charges of a specific character, they were all distinctly and specifically denied. Lord Campbell — You may take a rule to shew cause. llule nisi granted. [We have found in our files, received by the GwaMor, tha foregoing full report of the application initiating law proceedings against the famous convert to Romanism, Dr. Newman, by the equally famous convert to Protestantism, Dr. Achilli ; and the extraordinary interest which the case excited at home induces us to copy it, particularly as it includes the remarkable portion of the Oratorian Father's " Lectures" on which the action lor libel has been taken, but of which we had previously seenonly the substance in general terms. Atasubsoquent date (as we briefly mentioned in a summary some weeks since) Dr. Newman's name was by consent substituted for the names of the publishers, he (Dr. N.) admitting the authorship, and declaring his anxiety that the responsibility should rest on him, not on Burns and Lambert. An application was made that Dr. Newman should be allowed till the Easter term to show cause against the original rule, *on the ground that it was necessary to send a skilful /linguist to collect evidence in support of his assertions in the foreign countries in which the facts charged in ihe alleged libel occurred ; but the Court refused the applieationou the grounds that it would be most unjust to Dr. Achilli to keep him under such imputations while a commibfeion was searching for witnesses on the
Continent, none of whom wove named in the affidavits; — that Dr. Newman had not pledged his oatli that he believed the charges ; — and that legal provisions exist under which, when the trial came on, the charges, if true, might be proved. The rule for a criminal information against Dr. Newman was therefore made absolute. . The trial was looked forward to with great anxiety, as it could scarcely fail either to disclose that Dr. Achilli, — an eminent Protestant champion, — wasone of themost depraved of men, or to brand Dr. Newman, — the most notable of seceders from the Church of England to Rome, and, as was currently stated, the President Designate of the projected " Catholic University" in Ireland, — as one of the foulest and most reckless of slanderers.... By an English paper of March 3rd we learn that the trial had been postponed till the 10th of May. Meanwhile Dr. Newman had already been at the expense of bringing witnesses from the Meeiterranean. — Ed. iV. if.]
DR. ACHILLI AND DR. NEWMAN., New Zealander, Volume 8, Issue 651, 10 July 1852
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