Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"no more than a very good Deist"

"[William Wake's] last French interlocutor, the génovéfain P.-F. Le Courayer, distraut, preferred to rally to a reductive Anglicanism that could serve [as a] compromise in [the] guise of [a] project of reunion.  This fooled no one and above all not the Queen of England, who wrote of Le Courayer:  'I fear he is no more than a very good Deist, as most the learned men when they cease being Papists prove.''"

Bernard Plongeron, "Les projets de réunion des communions chrétiennes du Directoire à l'Empire," Revue d'histoire de l'Église de France 66, no. 176 (1980), 17 (17-49), citing E. Préclin, L'union des églises gallicane et anglicane: une tentative au temps de Louis XIV: P.-F. Le Courayer (de 1681 à 1732) et Guillaume Wake (Paris, 1928), 160-162.  The words of the Queen are taken directly from the Diary of Viscount Percival, afterwards first Earl of Egmont, rather than the French of this article:  "Pray has Dr. Couraye a correspondence in France now?  I answered, I did not know, for Mr. Duncombe had stolen him from me, not only for the winter, but now for the summer, which was a loss to me, because of his cheerful temper and learned conversation.  I added that he understood a thing the clearest, and replied to it the quickest of any man I know.  I wish, said she, I could prevail with him to do more than he does.  You mean, Madam, said I, to declare himself a Protestant; but I think it very extraordinary to see a monk go so far as he has done in approaching us.  And yet, said she, I fear he is gone too far; how so, replied I?  Why I fear he is no more than a very good Deist, as most the learned men when they cease being Papists prove.  Madam, said I, he is certainly a true and sincere Christian; for so I find him in all conversations I ever had with him.  Then, said she, he is possibly of Erasmus's opinion, for whom I have a great esteem.  I believe, replied I, that he is of his opinion, for he highly esteems him, and thinks him the greatest man the Church of Rome produced.  I shall, said she, be desirous to see Dr. Couraye when he returns to London" (Diary of Viscount Percival, afterwards first Early of Egmont, vol. 1, 1730-1733, Manuscripts of the Earl of Egmont (London:  His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1920), 396).

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