INTERRUPTED sea-voyages were his fate. This time, half-way across the Channel, his ship was hailed by a Government frigate, The Hare, which demanded to be shown the ship's sailing papers, and the passports of her passengers. Campion had none. Moreover, as his religion was suspected, the dutiful Protestant frigate, homeward bound, promptly swallowed him, bag and baggage. His generous friends in Ireland had forced upon him money for his needs, and the captain who now kidnapped him found it convenient to keep the money, but kind-heartedly let his prisoner lose himself in the streets of Dover. Other friends quickly made the losses good. On Campion's second attempt to reach Calais all went well. He did not lack his secular epitaph, so to speak, at Court. It was not then a legal crime, though it soon became so, for a Catholic Englishman to leave the country fast being made into a hell for him. The mighty Cecil treated this expatriation as quite voluntary. “And it is a very great pity,” he chose to say, looking into Richard Stanihurst's gratified eyes, “for Master Campion was one of the diamonds of England.”
The date of Campion's reconciliation to the Church is unknown. It seems unlikely to have taken place in Ireland. He may have been absolved from his schism in London, or else as soon as he had reached Douay. There was a busy trade in wool still flourishing at that time between Flanders and England, and in the thrifty, kindly towns of the exporting country refugees formed a considerable part of the population. Douay, properly speaking, Douai, was called “Doway” by its foster-children. The creation of its English Seminary was a master-stroke of Dr. William Allen, Canon of York, afterwards Cardinal, once of Oriel College, Oxford, and Principal of St. Mary Hall. Indeed, “Oxford may be said to have founded Douay.” Allen was aided by many men of mark, notably by his old tutor, Morgan Phillipps, and by the latter's bequeathed funds; also by the Flemish Abbots and layfolk. Campion seems to have been the eighteenth arrival in the newly established house of young, prayerful, enthusiastic men. He found there as Professor of Hebrew, his beloved Gregory Martin, and a learned colleague, Richard Bristow, late Fellow of Exeter College, the first of the Seminarian priests to be ordained: two props and pillars of the foundation. There also was Thomas Stapleton, late Fellow of New College, the most able Catholic controversialist of the age. Five of the twenty English students enrolled in 1571, joined the Society of Jesus. The College, destined to speedy and splendid development, was affiliated to the Douay University, established some eight years before it by Spanish munificence and a Papal Bull. Here, then, Edmund Campion came into his soul's haven, “out of the swing of the sea.”
It was Dr. Allen's missionary policy that all his sons, before memory of them had grown dim at home, should write to their more undecided friends in England, doing what they could to win them to the service of Christ in the Church Catholic. Campion sent a very long document to this end to his venerated and now ageing friend, Bishop Cheyney: a wonderful letter, in that live Elizabethan English, which was bold as surgery itself, yet charged with feeling. Associating his beliefs with Cheyney's as the writer does, he helps us to understand his own doctrinal position while in Oxford and in Dublin. He failed in both places, writes Fr. Morris, for the same reason: “the position was a false one, for it was an effort to serve two masters, and to live like a Catholic and teach the Catholic religion outside the pale of the Catholic Church.” “There is no end or measure,” he now tells Cheyney from Douay, “to my thinking of you; and I never think of you without being horribly ashamed. . . . So often was I with you at Gloucester, so often in your private chamber, with no one near us, when I could have done this business, and I did it not!”
By “this business” he means confessing Catholic truth, and urging Cheyney to return to it. “And what is worse, I have added flames to the fever by assenting and assisting. And although you were superior to me, in your counterfeited dignity, in wealth, age and learning, and though I was not bound to look after the physicking or dieting of your soul, yet, since you were of so easy and sweet a temper as in spite of your grey hairs to admit me, young as I was, to familiar intercourse with you, to say whatever I chose, in all security and secrecy, while you imparted to me your sorrows and all the calumnies of the other heretics against you; and since like a father you exhorted me to walk straight and upright in the royal road, to follow the steps of the Church, the Councils, and the Fathers, and to believe that where there was a consensus of these there could be no spot of falsehood; I am very angry with myself that I neglected to use such a beautiful opportunity of recommending the Faith: that through false modesty or culpable negligence, I did not address with boldness one who was so near to the Kingdom of God. But as I have no longer the occasion that I had of persuading you face to face, it remains that I should send my words to you to witness my regard, my care, my anxiety for you, known to Him to whom I make my daily prayer for your salvation. Listen, I beseech you, listen to a few words. You are sixty years old, more or less” (Cheyney was really sixty-eight), “of uncertain health, of weakened body; the hatred of heretics, the pity of Catholics, the talk of the people, the sorrow of your friends, the joke of your enemies. Who do you think yourself to be? What do you expect? What is your life? Wherein lies your hope? In the heretics hating you so implacably and abusing you so roundly? Because of all heresiarchs you are the least crazy? Because you confess the Living Presence of Christ on the Altar, and the freedom of man's will? Because you persecute no Catholics in your diocese? Because you are hospitable to your townspeople, and to good men? Because you plunder not your palace and lands, as your brethren do? Surely these things will avail much, if you return to the bosom of the Church, if you suffer even the smallest persecution in common with those of the Household of Faith, or join your prayers with theirs. But now, whilst you are a stranger and an enemy, whilst, like a base deserter, you fight under an alien flag, it is in vain to attempt to cover your crimes with the cloak of virtues. . . .