1. In October 1574, the 34-year-old Edmund Campion took up an appointment as Professor of Rhetoric at the Clementinum, the Jesuit college in Prague. His own education had included twelve distinguished years at St John’s College, Oxford, until religious doubts led to his resignation in August 1570; he then taught at the English College, Douai, in 1572, and entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus the following year. He continued to teach Latin and philosophy at Prague for five years, until he was summoned to Rome to participate in the English mission; he left the Clementinum on 25 March 1580, reached England two months later, and died a martyr’s death at Tyburn on 1 December 1581; he was canonized in 1970.
2. His duties at Prague included the writing of Latin plays for performance by his pupils. He would already have been exposed to academic drama at St Johns, where his friend and co-religionist Gregory Martin had written the lost tragedy Cyrus, Rex Persarum. NOTE 1 In Prague, he found himself part of the extraordinary flowering of the arts, including drama, which followed the accession of Rudolf II as King of Bohemia in 1575 and his election as Holy Roman Emperor the following year. NOTE 2 Campion wrote the tragedy of Abraham and Isaac performed at the Clementina in September 1575, perhaps for the coronation, and probably also the six-hour tragedy of King Saul performed for Rudolf and his sister, Queen Elisabeth of France, at the Prague autumn fair in 1577; both are recorded in a history of the college written by its Professor of Philosophy, the Englishman Georgius Varus [1540 - 82]. NOTE 3 Probably in the first year of the reign, he drafted a pageant of the heavenly host for the Clementina’s contribution to the annual Corpus Christi Day procession on 21 June 1576. NOTE 4 Most celebrated of all was his tragedy Ambrosia, performed twice in October 1578 for Rudolf, Elisabeth, and the Dowager Empress Mary of Austria: epigrammatists wryly praised him for the nectar et ambrosia he emitted, the text was widely circulated, and there was a revival performance at Munich in 1591. NOTE 5
3. The two dialogues presented here, however, were written for less exalted occasions, probably in the classroom. Since both use unconventional methods to inculcate approved types of social and moral behaviour, it may be relevant that, in 1576, Campion took up additional duties as Praefectus cubiculi and Praefectus morum: in effect, he became dormitory superintendent and moral tutor, responsible for the very aspects of the boys’ education which are addressed in Doctor Ironicus and Dialogus mutus respectively. In the former, a teacher (perhaps a role Campion intended for himself) explains in elegiac couplets the rudiments of good behaviour to a pupil, recommending tardiness, dirtiness, and idleness. The boy is delighted to have found a master who really understands what he wants from his schooling, which only goes to show that he has paid too little attention to the doctor’s name: like Erasmus in the Praise of Folly (1509), Thomas Dekker in The Gull’s Hornbook (1609), or Jonathan Swift in Directions for Servants (1731), he was speaking ironically to explain what bad behaviour is, and all his precepts should be inverted. Alison Shell dismisses this as nothing more than “the inkhorn jocularity of Renaissance Latinists at play,” but it might be truer to say that Campion was experimenting with a mode of moral education more memorable, and therefore more effective, than mere direct statement. NOTE 6
4. Shell has more time for the Dialogus mutus, in which Campion uses a series of emblems to illustrate a series of moral precepts, which are then explained in dactylic hexameter and a lyric chorus. Admittedly, its importance does not lie in the originality of its content: “There is nothing in the dialogue that could not have been found in almost any emblem-book,” she says, and indeed the first conceit, the golden cup of poison contrasted with the glass one whose pure contents can be immediately discerned, takes its cue from the mordant venenum in auro bibitur of Seneca’s Thyestes. NOTE 7 But the seventeenth-century Bohemian historian Bohuslav Balbin was struck by the inventiveness of using “Emblematicae declamationes,” verbal explanations of emblems literally enacted on stage; he refers in particular to the third, in which a boy demonstrates how a bundle of sticks is stronger than any individual stick. NOTE 8 Again, Campion seems to have been attempting a novel way of getting the message across to his boys. If they were as prone to misbehaviour as Doctor Ironicus seems to suggest, perhaps it was prudent pedagogy.
5. If these little pieces were meant to furnish moral instruction, at the same time they appear to have performed a second educational function: providing lower-form boys with their first initiation into school dramatics, and at the same time giving Campion the opportunity to do some “talent spotting”and identify the boys upon whom he would have to rely as actors in future years. One is distinctly reminded of the at least quasi-dramatic declamatoriae actiones specified by the Constitutiones of the Jesuit college at St. Omers, which appear to have been designed to perform similar functions. NOTE 9
6. A copy of the Dialogus mutus was reported to be in the library at the Clementina in the 1660’s, where Balbin read it, but diligent searches by modern “Campionologists” have failed to bring it to light. NOTE 1o The sole authority for the text of both dialogues is a transcript made in 1691 by the Irish Jesuit Christopher Grene [1629 - 97] as part of his extensive Collectanea of records relating to the lives of English and Welsh Catholic martyrs. NOTE 11 He found the dialogues preserved in a single fasciculus, but had a second exemplar for Doctor Ironicus, from which he records some alternative readings. He also includes a partial transcript of another dialogue, Stratocles, which appeared in the same source inter scripta Campiani, and which was duly ascribed to Campion by the nineteenth-century biographer Richard Simpson; it was in fact the work of the prolific Bohemian Jesuit, Jacobus Pontanus [1540 - 1608]. NOTE 12
7. We take this opportunity to express our thanks to Anna Edwards of the Archivum Britannicum Societatis Jesu for her help in locating the MS.
NOTE 1 Martin Wiggins (in association with Catherine Richardson), British Drama, 1533 - 1642: A Catalogue (Oxford, 2012 — ), entry 459.
NOTE 2 See Eliška Fučíkovà et al. (eds.), Rudolf II and Prague: The Court and the City (London, 1997).
NOTE 3 Georgius Varus, Historia Collegii S. J. Pragensis ad S. Clementum (Prague: National Library of the Czech Republic, MS I.A.1), fo;. 115v; Carlos Sommervogel, Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jesus (Brussels - Paris, 1890 - 1900) II.587; Wiggins, entries 584, 617.
NOTE 4 Wiggins, entry 591. Campion’s near-illegible working manuscript survives at Stonyhurst (MS A.V.3, fols. 1 - 3).
NOTE 5 Wiggins, entry 650. A near-complete MS, lacking only the prologue and epilogue, survives at Dillingen (Studienbibliothek, Codex 221, fos. 135-169 v ); MS C-17 - v at the English College, Rome, contains only the middle section of the play. The text was edited and translated by Jos. Simons (Assen, 1970).
NOTE 6 Alison Shell, “‘We are Made a Spectacle’: Campion's Dramas,” in T. M. McCoog (ed.), The Reckoned Expense: Edmund Campion and the Early English Jesuits, 2nd ed. (Rome, 2007), 120.
NOTE 7 Shell, p. 121.
NOTE 8 Bohuslaus Balbinus, Verisimilia humaniorum disciplinarum , ed. Olga Spevak (Prague, 2006), 480.
NOTE 9 The Constitutiones provide rather detailed instructions for certain declamationes or declamatoriae actiones. They were of a a certain dramatic and performative nature, as can be seen from section C1, Declamatioriae actiones, de quibus no. 2o et 3o ordinationis est sermo, intelliguntur declamationes mixtae actione seu scena aliqua tanquam condimento, although section C2 specifies that they are to be shorter than actual plays. Section C1 specifies that these declamationes should not lack lengthier speeches and at least some poetry, and should feature entries and exits by characters: Itaque cum sint declamationes, omitti non debet prolixior oratio aliqua vel carmen vel oratiunculae duae tresve, prosa aut carmine scriptae, quae in fine vel medio vel mixtim recitentur; et cum praeterea sint actiones, ii qui comparuerint poterunt pro ratione inventionis libere egredi iterumque comparare prout fit in scenis. More specifically, section C4 speaks of the dialogismus qui in prima classe Grammatices permittuntur. See further William McCabe S. J., An Introduction to the English Jesuit Theatre (St. Louis, 1983) pp. 103 - 110.
NOTE 10 John Manning and Marc van Vaeck (eds.), The Jesuits and the Emblem Tradition (Turnhout, 1999), 147 - 59.
NOTE 11 London: Archivum Britannicum Societatis Jesu, Collectanea P.II; Doctor Ironicus appears on openings 590a -591b, and Dialogus mutus on openings 591b -592b.
NOTE 12 London: Archivum Britannicum Societatis Jesu, Collectanea P.II, openings. 588a - 590a; Jacobus Pontanus, Soldier or Scholar: Stratocles or War, ed. Paul Richard Blum and Thomas McCreight (Baltimore, 2009); Richard Simpson, Edmund Campion (London, 1867), 357f.; Wiggins, Appendix 2: Works Excluded from the Catalogue.