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William Bathe

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Writer on music and education, b. at Dublin, Ireland, 2 April, 1564; d. at Madrid, 17 June, 1614. His parents, John Bathe and Eleanor Preston, were distinguished both by their lineage and by their loyalty to the Catholic Faith. He went to Oxford about 1583 and while a student there wrote "A Brief Introduction to the Art of Music" (London, 1584). Another treatise from his pen, "A Brief Introduction to the Skill of Song", was published at London in 1600. These writings and his skill as master of various instruments, especially the Irish harp, won him the favour of Queen Elizabeth to whom he was related through the Kildare family. His own inclinations, however, were towards the religious life. From the English court he went to Louvain where he studied theology. On 6 August, 1595 (1596) he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Tournai. His later studies were pursued at St. Omer and completed at Padua. In 1601 Bathe was selected by the father general to accompany Father Mansoni, the Apostolic Nuncio, to Ireland. This mission led them first to the Court of Spain and while there they learned that peace had been concluded between Spain and England and that the journey to Ireland was no longer necessary. Bathe remained in Spain, living at Valladolid and later at the Irish College in Salamanca. It was here that he wrote his principal work "Janua Linguarum" (Salamanca, 1611). It was designed to facilitate the study of languages and thus to aid missionaries, confessors, and students both young and old. For this purpose, 1330 short sentences were grouped under certain headings, the Latin and Spanish on opposite pages, with an index giving the translation of the Latin words — in all about 5300. The work went through many editions in which its method was applied, by various combinations, to eleven languages, including Greek and Hebrew. It was printed at London (1615), Leipzig (1626), Milan (1628), Venice (1655), and by 1637 it had been published in Bohemian, Illyrian, and Hungarian. An English edition (London, 1617) bore the title, "The Messe of Tongues (Latin, French, English, Hispanish)". It naturally found imitators, and among these the great work by John Amos Comenius holds first rank. In the preface to his "Janua Linguarum Reserata" (1631), Comenius acknowledges his indebtedness to Bathe, while in the work itself he adopts and develops the plan which the Jesuit had originated. Bathe is also credited by some of his biographers ( Alegambe, Sherlock) with a treatise on "The Mysteries of Faith " and another on the " Sacrament of Penance ". Sommervogel, however, takes a different view. To his industry as a writer Bathe added an unflagging zeal for the spiritual welfare of his fellowmen, the relief of suffering, and the instruction of the poorer classes. He had just been invited by the King of Spain to give the spiritual exercises to the members of the Court when death ended his labours.

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