Titus, or The Palm of Christian Courage
The Printed Argument
The printed argument for "Titus, or The Palme of Christian Courage" (Wing S4456A) survives in a single copy at Cambridge University Library. The transcription below preserves spelling and some formatting.
Titus a noble Gentleman more illustrious for his Christian courage, then parentage: was sollicited by the King of Bungo, to desert his Religion by severall, most artificious infernall plots, all which he sleighted and dashed with his invincible courage, and generous Christian resolution, whereat the King amazed, restored him to his liberty, wife and children, and granted him the freedome of his Religion, with all his lands and possessions of which before he was bereaved as traitor to the Crowne.
This history is compendiously set downe by Father Francis Solier, of the Society of IESVS in the 18. booke of his Ecclesiasticall historie of Iaponia, and yeare of our Lord, 1620.
Printed at Waterford by Thomas Bourke, M.DC.XLIV.
Divine love extolleth the Iaponian's courage.
Iolatrie stormes at her expulsion out of Iaponia, and exciteth hell to revenge.
The Emperor of Iaponia declareth his affection towards the Idolls, and to this end commandeth a solemne sacrifice.
The Bongo's receive no answer from their gods as they were wont, hence they rage against the Christians.
Faith and Fortitude, implore aide of the triumphant Church.
A Countrey Clowne hearing that a proclamation was to issue against the Christians, is mighty merry, and attempts to robbe a passenger.
The Emperor commands the edict against Christians to bee proclaimed.
The edict is promulged.
Titus perusing the edict, deliberates, with death, judgment, hell, heaven and eternitie.
The King of Bungo inquireth narrowly after [page 3] the Christians.
Titus is summoned and biddeth adieu to wife and children.
Idolatrie triumphes before time, and is by faith repressed.
A Souldier fainedly sicke, calleth for the Doctor, whose purse artificiously he conveyeth out of his pocket, and hopes by a lad dreaming to get another.
The King of Bungo endevors first by threats, then by faire promises to pervert Titus.
Titus his wife and familie voweth loyaltie to God before the Crucifix.
The militant Church doth comfort them.
S. Francis Xaverius appeares & encourageth them.
The King of Bungo menaceth death to Titus his youngest sonne, if the father abjure not his faith.
Foure youngmen in vaine seeke to pervert the lad with the pleasures of the world.
Martina the daughter, biddeth adieu, with mother and brother, assuring them of her constancy.
Simon the eldest sonne bewaileth for that he is [page 4] left behind.
Tidings are brought to Titus of his daughters execution, Martina the mother of Simon is summoned.
By the King both are sollicited to desert their faith, Simon scourged.
Two souldiers force a lad to discover where the mothers purse lay hidden by whom they are deceived.
Titus is sent for by the King, in whose view supposed heads of wife & children are produced.
They are lead from prison before him and a superficiall command given to kill them in his presence, if he persists in his constant resolution.
Divine providence declareth Gods care of his elect, and foretelleth Titus his triumph.
The King amazed at this constancie dismisseth them, freedome of Religion granted with their lives and estates.
Exhorteth to imitate their couragious Christian resolution.
Performed in 1644 at the Jesuit College of Kilkenny, Ireland.
Biblical Moral. (Harbage)
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
As the first page of the printed plot suggests, the narrative source for the play was François Solier's Histoire ecclésiastique des isles et royaumes du Japon (1627–29). However, despite the plot's dating of the events to 1620, Solier's story of the "gentil-homme nommé Tite" is assigned to the year 1614, the year in which the Tokugawa shogunate banned Catholicism in Japan (2:533-34). Another account of the story, in English, is found in A Briefe Relation of the Persecution Lately Made against the Catholike Christians, in the Kingdome of Iaponia (1619). The region of "Bungo" in the plot corresponds to present-day Oita Prefecture in Kyushu Island (Takenaka 14).
The narrative was a popular subject in Jesuit drama internationally, the first known version staged at Mechelen on 4 December 1623, with other recorded performances across Europe documented into the eighteenth century (Proot and Verberckmoes 37–41).
References to the Play
Takenaka discusses "Titus" in the context of other Jesuit plays that take Catholics in Asia as their subject, including Antipelargesis (extant in a manuscript at Stonyhurst) and Sanctus Franciscus Xavierius (Wiggins #2163) as well as another lost play, "Paulus Japonensis" (Wiggins #2117), all of which were associated with the English Jesuit College at St. Omers. Takenaka notes that "Titus" "was no doubt intended to encourage the Catholics of Ireland in their own struggle against persecution" and that the play's form, "in which the hero repeatedly and steadfastly rejects temptation and withstands persecution, is highly characteristic of the Counter-Reformation type" (16). Takenaka also proposes that the comic scenes lack "any bearing whatsoever on the main play, except in providing light relief and contrast" (16).
Kerrigan further elaborates on the topicality of the play's story for Catholics in Ireland and suggests that the printed plot indicates that a large audience was desired (188-94).
Keener considers the evidence of the play in relation to the Jesuit drama performed at Saint-Omers (893–94). Noting the proximity of Mechelen to Saint-Omers and the similarity of the play's subtitle to The Palme of Christian Fortitude, which was printed in 1630 at Saint-Omers in a translation by the Saint-Omers-educated Edmund Neville, Keener proposes that Neville may have been "involved with the creation or transmission of the play" that was performed in Ireland.
For What It's Worth
Site created and maintained by Misha Teramura, University of Toronto; updated 14 June 2018.