FATHER THOMAS DARBYSHIRE, S.J. PART III.
Jesuits In Conflict: Or Historic Facts Illustrative of the labours of the English Mission and Province Of The Society Of Jesus. In the times of Queen Elizabeth and her successors. By a member Of The Society Of Jesus.To return to the thread of our narrative. Father Darbyshire, before his noviceship was ended, being asked, according to custom, if he was ready to undertake the duty of teaching in any class, even the lowest, and for as long as obedience should enjoin him to do so, and also to perform any duty, however low, that might be assigned him, he gave the following answer in writing— Paratum cor meum Deus, paratum cor meum; neque dubito verum dixisse Christi vicarium in initiis hujus Societatis, quando ista protulit, Digitus Dei est hic —"My heart is ready, O my God, my heart is ready; nor do I doubt but that the Vicar of Christ spoke the truth when, in the commencement of this Society, he uttered these words, 'The finger of God is here.'"
He was sent to Dillingen, where for some years he spread the sweet odour of his virtues. Whilst at Dillingen he was, according to Sacchinus, 1 sent to Scotland in 1566 on some mission by the Holy Father, as companion (with Father Edmund Hay, then Rector of the Scotch College, Paris) to the Apostolic Nuncio, Vincentius Laurens, whom the Pope had consecrated Bishop, and appointed as his own successor in the see of Monte Regale. The object of this mission does not appear, though it was probably connected with some affairs of Mary Queen of Scots, who was married to Darnley the following year. From Dillingen he was ordered to France, having been appointed Master of Novices at Billon, in the exercise of which most responsible office he displayed specimens of every virtue, both in the art of discernment of spirits (in which he was specially distinguished), and being possessed of the most affable manners, he applied himself to every duty of conciliating and conserving, and the exercise of works of benevolence and charity. Father Darbyshire was solemnly professed in the Society of Jesus in the year 1572. For some years he lectured in Latin to the members of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin, 2 As no leave had been given, until 1580, for any members of the Society to enter England, such being the inscrutable providence of God, Father Darbyshire, eager for procuring the salvation of souls in any place or country whatever, was employed entirely in assisting his neighbour in France, labouring especially amongst the lower classes and the ignorant, and though of such rare talents and a Professed Father in the Society, leaving the pulpits and chairs of professors, he almost entirely confined himself to giving catechetical instructions. This extreme humility in so learned and so distinguished a Father, was so agreeable to God that in spite of his determination to confine himself to the poorest of the poor, the young and illiterate, men of the highest rank and distinguished for their learning, flocked in numbers to hear him. This was especially the case when at Pont-a-Mousson, where his lectures and instructions were interspersed with displays of such ornaments of learning and eloquence, that not only his poor hearers were delighted, but grave theologians also would eagerly make notes of them, lest they should be lost when once delivered, being, as they said, worthy of a larger theatre.
In Paris an event occurred worthy of notice as a proof of his zeal, and in commendation of his admirable tact in leading the souls of men to God.
A certain English doctor in theology, cast forth from his native land by the common shipwreck of schism, arrived safely at Paris. He was an old friend of Father Darbyshire, who frequently visited him, and resolved to attack him upon the point of making his confession, and to persuade him to make a general one of his whole life. Therefore, taking a favourable opportunity, he began the subject; and, in order to draw his friend's attention in the right direction, he said, " I have nothing to do with other matters; this alone demands my only care. I had a dream last night which may equally strike you as wonderful, as it vehemently admonishes me of my duty. I seemed to be seated with a party at a lordly table, when, during the feast, musicians happened to enter the room. They asked if any one wished to hear some music ? Certainly,' was the reply of all Then one of them turning to me, said, ' Dost thou wish me to sing thee a song ?' 'I give you leave,' I answered; sing on.' But the man, lifting up the veil of my conscience from my earliest years, placed at one view before my eyes all the sins I had ever committed up to that hour, which struck me with so great a horror that I resolved with all possible speed to free myself from the dreadful burthen. 'Come on, therefore,' said Father Thomas; ' take a quiet interval of two or three days in which to examine carefully your whole past life, that you may the more perfectly prepare yourself for so excellent a work.' 'This is not necessary,' he replied; for I always keep things so clearly digested in my mind that any such delay is superfluous.' " The doctor then and there, in an admirably arranged manner, made his general confession, giving us a lesson of the wonderful method by which God is pleased to assist His own elected ones; and it was for himself, as he little thought at the time, a preparation for a much nearer departure from this world than he expected, for soon after he was seized with mortal sickness and died piously.
1 Hist. S.J., pars iii., I. ii., n. 6.
2 This would probably have been at Paris. Amongst the State Papers, Dom. Eliz. y 1574, Vol. xcix., No. 55, is a list of recusants names, and (interalios), "Father Darbishere, Jesuite, Paris."