[London]: n.p., 1623.
Quarto: 18 x 14 cm.  p. Collation: A-C4, D2
ONE OF TWO EDITIONS, both printed in 1623
Bound in 20th c. quarter Morocco and olive cloth over boards with gold-tooling on spine (spine rubbed). A very good copy. Small wormhole to blank upper, inner corner of opening leaves (with a smidge of loss to the margin of the t.p., not affecting text.) Lower margin of t.p. slightly irregular, pen-trials to title. Bookplate of Jacob P.R. Lyell [James Patrick Ronaldson Lyell (b. 1871)].
On Friday, 27 June 1623, the formidable Protestant controversialist Daniel Featley debated the equally-skilled Jesuit polemicist, John Percy, alias Fisher (1569-1641). Fisher argued that the Protestant church -unlike the Catholic Church- could not produce a list of credible names before Luther who had ascribed to the Protestant faith. “The Fisher Catched in His Owne Net” (1623) is Featley’s account of that debate, his most famous anti-Catholic disputation.
Extremely rare. This work is held in only 4 copies in North America. ESTC S2663 (STC 10732.3) at Union Theological Seminary; and ESTC S120857 (STC 10732, with A2r line 2 of text beginning "yeares") at Folger, Harvard, and Huntington.
The work is also printed in Featley’s “The Romish Fisher caught and held in his owne net”(1624): ESTC S101898: Folger, Harvard, Huntington, Union Theological, UT Austin; ESTC S101879: Folger, Huntington, UCLA, Chicago, Illinois.
“In Featley’s account, he alleged that the meeting was originally intended to be a small, informal, private conference to provide satisfaction to Sir Humphrey Lynde's aging cousin, Edward Buggs. Buggs, after having several encounters with Fisher, was now having serious doubts about whether the Protestant church was the true church. Since Featley was a trusted friend of Lynde and widely acknowledged as the leading anti-Catholic spokesman of the day, he was the ideal person to alleviate Buggs’ doubts…
“Featley claimed it was his pastoral duty to protect the flock under his care from harmful theological arguments that prompted doubts and led laypeople away from the true church. He could not ‘suffer Wolves to enter into our Folds, and worry our dearest Lambs, bought at the high price of our Redeemer's Blood, and that before our eyes, and not open our mouthes for their rescue.’ Featley believed Catholic polemicists were laboring ‘to keep those in the dungeon, whom [they held] in captivity,’ and so he toiled to set these prisoners free. For Featley, disputation was not merely an academic undertaking; he was driven by a deep pastoral concern for the laypersons' souls, laboring against Catholics, who were preventing laypeople from ‘seeing a glimpse of light, lest they should look after more.’ He believed that disputations with Catholics and the publication of anti-Catholic polemic would ultimately aid in resolving the doubts of the laity….
Featley’s opponent, John Fisher, S.J., “converted to Catholicism at the age of fourteen and in 1586 crossed the channel and entered the English College at Rheims. In 1589 he matriculated at the Jesuit-run English College at Rome, and on 13 March 1593, by papal dispensation, was ordained a priest before the full canonical age. In May 1594 he was admitted into the Society of Jesus and began his noviciate at Tournai. In the following year, however, he became ill due to overwork, and was ordered to England to recuperate.”(Oxford DNB)
After the accession of King James VI/I (1603), Fisher become a formidable Catholic apologist in England, and by the time of the debate with Fleatley, “Fisher the Jesuit” had won over a number of Protestants to Catholicism. “He was at times detained in London's New Prison, although he was released because of the increased toleration given to Catholics during the Spanish Match negotiations [the diplomatic effort to wed Prince Charles, son of James VI/I, to the Spanish Infanta, Maria Anna, daughter of Philip III.]
The conference between Featley and Fisher was “held at Sir Humphrey Lynde's house in London and attended by a large audience. The question at issue was 'whether the Protestant Church was in all ages visible, and especially in the ages going before Luther; and whether the names of such visible Protestants in all ages can be shewed and prooved out of good Authors' (Romish Fisher, C3v, p. 14).”(Oxford DNB)
“Fisher brought with him his assistant, John Sweet, as well as ‘Jesuites and some others with them.’ The meeting took place in Lynde's dining room and centered on Fisher's main question. At one climactic point during a lengthy exchange over terms, Fisher's supporters interrupted the quarrel by shouting ‘names, names, names.’ To this Featley replied, ‘What, will nothing content you but a Buttery booke? You shall have a Buttery Booke of names, if you will stay a while.’ According to all accounts, the meeting was originally ‘intended’ to be a private conference. Nevertheless, when the Jesuits arrived, they were shocked to find Lynde's house filled with a large crowd of London's elite society, which included among others, the Earl of Warwick…
“While it is possible that a crowd of London's Protestant elite happened to hear about the conference, it seems that the Protestants exaggerated the extent to which they were innocent of publicizing the debate… The large Protestant crowd served to disadvantage the Catholics, who were clearly outnumbered and in enemy territory, and to confirm the superiority of Protestantism. In this scenario, visibly surveying a crowd of Protestants could assure lay Protestants that their church was the true church.”(Salazar, Calvinist Conformity in Post-Reformation England, The Theology and Career of Daniel Featley, p. 72 ff.)
“Featley's most obvious polemical tactic during the Fisher debate was to argue that Roman Catholicism was a counterfeit version of Christianity, as measured according to Scripture. He sought to prove the incompatibility of the doctrines established at the Council of Trent with the Scriptures and the early church.
“This approach was, of course, not unusual. Many English Reformed divines believed that Catholicism had its true origins at the Council of Trent. During the Fisher debate, Featley listed numerous doctrines that he believed were established at Trent; these, he said, were contrary to the Scriptures and the church's teaching throughout history. These doctrines included ‘that there is a treasury of Saint's merits,’ the necessity of the Latin mass, ‘that Pope's pardons are requisite or useful to release soules out of Purgatory,’ the dependence on the pope for ‘all ecclesiastical power,’ and the pope's capacity to canonize saints. Featley challenged Fisher that if he could ‘proove, that the Apostles, or the Primitive Churches immediately founded by them, held your Trent-faith, or those twelve new articles by Pope Pius in the end of that Councell,’ then he would ‘acknowledge, that the Romane Church hathe a good title to the Scriptures.’ Featley also used various scriptural texts and apocalyptic rhetoric to claim that the papacy was the Antichrist. In short, part of Featley's argument was that Catholic theological arguments were not exegetically viable and that Scripture must be the ultimate source of one's authority.
“The debate seems to have been a somewhat chaotic affair… The sensitive political negotiations over the Spanish match caused the debate to be halted prematurely, and both sides subsequently claimed victory…
“This debate also resulted in numerous publications including Featley's ‘Fisher Catched in his Owne Net’ (1623), Fisher's ‘Answere to a Pamphlet’ (1623), and Featley's response, ‘The Romish Fisher Catched and Held in his Owne Net’ (1624). Featley's work prompted another reply by Fisher in 1625 entitled ‘A Reply to D. White and D. Featley’. Fisher died of cancer in 1641.”(Oxford DNB).
ESTC S2663 (STC 10732.3)