The letters of John Hus/Letter 58, To his Friends in Constance

For other English-language translations of this work, see Letter of Jan Hus to his friends (24 June 1415).

LVIII. To his Friends in Constance

(Without date: June 8, 1415)

I am very glad that the Occultus is hidden![1] I have had more good food during these days than all the time from Easter to last Sunday.[2] I thought there would be more order and dignity in the Council.[3] A blessing for ever on my Lord John! Would that I knew how Barbatus[4] is faring; he would not take the advice of his friends. They have my book,[5] so I am in no need at the present of that paper. Keep a copy of the first articles with my proofs attached[6] for the sake of proving any of them, should there be need; attest them with your signature where I have put a cross,[7] especially this article: “Whatever a virtuous man doth, he doth virtuously.”[8]

At this moment I am racked with toothache, and I suffered agonies in my cell with vomiting, hemorrhage, headache, and stone. These are the penalties I pay for my sins, and the tokens of God’s love to me.

Since they have only condemned the treatises,[9] please qualify my last Czech letter which I sent off to-day,[10] that God’s people may not suppose that all my books have been condemned, as I imagined when I wrote my letter of yesterday. I would like to be assured that no letter written in prison shall be made public to any one, because it is not yet finally settled what God will do with me! I am afraid that a letter of mine hath been forwarded by the hands of Ulrich.[11] For God’s sake I beg you to look well after the letters and also your words and doings. What a comfort your letters and my own have been to me! I trust by God’s grace they will be used for men’s good. So long as I know that you and the nobles are in Constance, I am comforted even supposing that I am now to be led forth to death. I verily think that God sent you as angels to cheer me in my weakness and misery in the midst of my sore trials; how great they have been, are, and are yet to be, God omnipotent knoweth Who is my mercy and refuge, my helper and my deliverer: in Him have I trusted.[12]

I was asked to-day by two persons who were sent to the prison, whether I had any more books of my own composition. I said, “Yes.” They replied, “Where?” I said, “In Bohemia.” They then inquired whether I had them here. My answer was, “No, not one, although I brought a Bible and other things in addition to the Sentences.”[13] And now I have heard that my clerk John has left.[14] They said, “Have you no other conclusions to offer?” I replied, “No,” which is true. “Do you wish to abjure and recant?” said they. “Come to the Council,” was my reply; “you will hear me there, as I have to stand before it and make my reply to it. Why do you trouble me? Have you come to cheer the prisoner or disturb him?” Whereupon after some further speech they withdrew.

Look after the books. I do not know if you have them. Tell Master Jesenicz that the notary has unfairly altered my deposition as to the gloss of the edict, as indeed you heard; for I stated this publicly in the Council.[15]

  1. Occultus est occultus. The treatise Contra Occultum Adversarium, written February 10, 1412 (see Mon. i. 135 ff.). The dangerous point in this lay in its tenet that the King ought to punish bad priests.
  2. While at Gottlieben.
  3. Cf. pp. 216, 263.
  4. So Palackẏ (Doc. 108): cf. p. 199, n. 1. But MS. Mladenowic has ‘barbatus Hieronymus’—i.e.,“bearded Jerome”; and to this the next clause leads me to incline (cf. also pp. 182, n. 1, and 233); Jerome’s beard was a constant source of trouble to him and made him a marked man.
  5. MS. of the De Ecclesia.
  6. Still extant, preserved by Mladenowic (see Doc. 204 ff.).
  7. Ib.
  8. See Doc. p. 214.
  9. De Ecclesia and the Treatises against Palecz and Stanislaus.
  10. This letter seems to be lost.
  11. Ulrich, of whom we know nothing, had done Hus a good turn on June 5 by informing Mladenowic of the design to hurry the trial (p. 207).
  12. Ps. xvii. 4; inexact.
  13. Peter Lombard’s Sentences, the great mediæval text-book of theology (see also p. 140, n. 2).
  14. Nothing is known of this ‘clericus Joannes,’ who, I imagine, had slipped back to Prague.
  15. At the trial of June 8 Hus was questioned as to a gloss upon the bull of February 2, 1413—the Lateran Council decree for the burning of the books of Wyclif. Hus stated that he had never seen it until it was shown him when in the Dominican prison. On being further questioned he confessed that he had heard that Jesenicz had written the gloss (Doc. 311). Jesenicz was now in Prague (supra, p. 206, n. 3).