There were other great men whose names might be mentioned here, but they will appear later in the course of this history.
THE ENGLISH MISSION
Conditions after Henry VIII – Allen – Persons – Campion – Entrance into England – Kingsley's Caricature – Thomas Pounde – Stephens – Capture and death of Campion – Other Martyrs – Southwell, Walpole – Jesuits in Ireland and Scotland – The English Succession – Dissensions – The Archpriest Blackwell – The Appellants – The Bye-Plot – Accession of James I – The Gunpowder Plot – Garnet, Gerard.
When Dr Allen suggested to Father Mercurian to send Jesuits to the English mission, Claudius Aquaviva came forward as an enthusiastic advocate of the undertaking, and was one of the first to volunteer. He was not, however, accepted, because evidently only English-speaking priests would be of any use there. But his election as General shortly after gave new courage to Campion and his companions when they were in the thick of the fight.
Dr Allen had left England in 1561, and taken refuge in Belgium, but he returned in the following year, and went around among the persecuted Catholics, exhorting them to be steadfast in their Faith. He found that the people were not Protestants by choice, and he was convinced that all they needed was an organized body of trained men to look after their spiritual needs, to comfort them in their trials, and to keep them well-instructed in their religion. Because of the lack of such help they were not only becoming indifferent, but were almost ready to compromise with their persecutors. Henry had confiscated ninety colleges, two thousand three hundred and fourteen chantries and free chapels and ten hospitals, besides putting to death seventy-six priests and monks, beginning with Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester, as well as a great number of others, gentle and simple, conspicuous among whom was the illustrious chancellor, Thomas More. There was a partial cessation of persecution when Edward VI, a boy, was placed on the throne, and, of course, the conditions changed completely when Mary Tudor came to her own. But when the terrible Elizabeth, infuriated by her excommunication, took the reins of government in her hands, no one was safe. Unfortunately, however, in the interval, the people had become used to the situation, and it began to be a common thing for them to resort to all sorts of subterfuges, even going to Protestant churches to conceal their Faith. Hence, there was great danger that, in the very near future, Catholicity would completely die out in England. Allen proposed to Father Mercurian to employ the Society to avert that disaster.
Some of the General's consultors balked at the project because it implied an absolutely novel condition of missionary life. There were none of the community helps, such as were available even in the Indies and in Japan; for, in England, the priest would have to go about as a peddler, or a soldier, or a sailor, or the like, mingling with all sorts of people, in all sorts of surroundings, and would thus be in danger of losing his religious spirit. The obvious reply was that if a man neglected what helps were at hand he would no doubt be in danger of losing his vocation, but that otherwise God would provide. Allen had already founded a missionary house at Douai in 1568, and its success may be estimated from the fact that one hundred and sixty priests, most of them from the secular clergy, who had been trained there, were martyred for the Faith. He had succeeded also in obtaining another establishment in Rome. In 1578, however, when the occupants of Douai were expelled, they were lodged at Rheims in the house of the Jesuits. Meantime, the Roman foundation had been entrusted to the Society; and with these two sources of supplies now at his disposal, Father Mercurian determined to begin the great work.
The most conspicuous figure in this heroic enterprise was Edmund Campion. He was born in London, and after the usual training in a grammar school was sent to Christ's Hospital. There he towered head and shoulders over everyone; and when Queen Mary made her solemn entry into London, it was he who made an address of welcome to her at St. Paul's School. With the queen on that occasion was her sister Elizabeth. Later, when Sir Thomas White founded St. John's College, Oxford, Campion was made a junior fellow there, and "for twelve years," says "The Catholic Encyclopedia," "he was the idol of Oxford, and was followed and imitated as no man ever was in an English University except himself and Newman." The "Dictionary of National Biography" goes further and informs us that "he was so greatly admired for his grace of eloquence that young men imitated not only his phrases but his gait, and revered him as a second Cicero." He was chosen to deliver the oration at the re-interment of Amy Robsart, the murdered wife of Robert Dudley, afterwards Earl of Leicester. The funeral discourse on the founder of the college was also assigned to him. In 1566 when Queen Elizabeth visited Oxford, Campion welcomed her in the name of the University, and was defender in a Latin disputation held in presence of her majesty. The queen expressed her admiration of his eloquence and commended him particularly to Dudley for advancement.
Father Persons assures us that "Campion was always a Catholic at heart, and utterly condemned all the form and substance of the new religion. Yet the sugared words of the great folk, especially the queen, joined with pregnant hopes of speedy and great preferment, so enticed him that he knew not which way to turn." While in this state of mind, he was induced by Cheyney, the Bishop of Gloucester, who had retained much of the ancient Faith, to accept deacon's orders and to pronounce the oath of supremacy, but the reproaches of a friend opened his eyes to his sin; and in anguish of soul, he abandoned all his collegiate honors. In August, 1569, he set out for Ireland. The reason for going there was to participate in a movement for resurrecting the old papal University of Dublin, the direction of which was to be entrusted largely to him. The scheme, however, fell through, chiefly on account of Campion, but very much to his credit. His papistry was too open. Meantime, he had written a "History of Ireland" based chiefly on Giraldus Cambrensis, which has ever since strongly prejudiced Irish people against him, notwithstanding his sanctity. But his good name has recently been restored by the distinguished Jesuit historian, Father Edmund Hogan, who tells us, that when Campion fled from Dublin to escape arrest for being a Catholic his manuscript fell into the hands of his pursuers who garbled and mutilated it at pleasure. He himself never published the book.
It will be of interest to students of literature to learn that one of Shakespeare's most famous passages was borrowed from this "History," namely, the description of Cardinal Wolsey in Henry VIII. Whole passages have been worked into the play. As Campion wrote it in 1569, when Shakespeare was only four or five years old, its authorship is beyond dispute. Conditions finally became so unpleasant in Dublin that he was obliged to take to flight. He left Ireland disguised as a serving-man and reached London, in time to witness the execution of Dr. Storey in June, 1571. That completed the work of his conversion, and he went to Douai, where after a recantation of his heresy, he resumed his course of scholastic theology; a year later, he set out for Rome as a penniless pilgrim, arriving there barefooted and in rags, much to the amazement of one of his former Oxford admirers, who met him on the street.
He was received into the Society by Father Mercurian, and made his novitiate at Prague in Bohemia, where he was ordained in 1578. He was one of the first group of missionaries who left the Continent for England under the guidance of Persons. In the party were Dr. Goldwell, Bishop of Saint Asaph, thirteen secular priests, three Jesuits: Persons, Campion and Ralph Emerson, a lay-brother, besides two young men not in orders. Goldwell had been consecrated as early as 1555 and had accompanied Cardinal Pole to England; he was England's sole representative at the Council of Trent. He was now on his way again to his native country, but he fell ill at Rheims and, according to the "Dictionary of National Biography," was recalled by the Pope. "This," says Dr. Guilday (English Refugees, p. 125), "was a disappointment to Persons. The presence of a bishop in England had been a condition of the Jesuits' taking up the burden of converting lapsed Catholics, and despite all the rebuffs the demand for a hierarchy met at Rome, the Jesuits themselves continually renewed it." These words of the distinguished historian who is the most recent witness in the matter of the archipresbyterate are invaluable testimony on a sorely controverted point.
The missionaries left Rome on foot, and passing through Milan were detained for a week by St. Charles Borromeo, who made Campion discourse every day to the episcopal household on some theological topic. From there they directed their steps to Geneva and were bold enough to visit Theodore Beza in his own house, but he refused to discuss religious matters. At Rheims Campion spoke to the students on the glory of martyrdom. Finally he and Persons arrived at Calais, and made their plans to cross the Channel; the other missionaries had meantime scattered along the coast, as it would have been manifestly unsafe for all to embark at the same place. Persons went aboard the boat disguised as a naval officer, and on stepping ashore at Dover presented himself with supreme audacity to the port warden or governor, and asked for a permit for his friend "Patrick," a merchant who was waiting on the other side for leave to cross. "Patrick" was Campion. He had used that name when escaping from Ireland, and as it had stood him in good stead then, he again assumed it.
Campion, however, did not play his part as well as Persons, for the governor eyed him intently and said: "You are Doctor Allen." "Indeed, I am not," replied Campion. "Well, you are a suspicious character, at all events, and your case must be looked into." A council was accordingly held, and it was decided to send the new-comer to London, under an armed escort. Campion thought himself lost, but up in his heart arose a prayer: "O Lord, let me work at least one year for my country, and then do with me what Thou wilt." Immediately a change came over the Governor's face, and, to the amazement of everyone, he said: "I was mistaken; you can go." Full of gratitude to God, the future martyr made all haste for London, where someone was on the look-out for him, and he soon met Father Persons.
Such are the plain facts taken from the writings of Campion to his superiors, describing his arrival in England. But the public mind had to be debauched on this as on every other point concerning the Jesuits, even at the expense of the man whom Oxford is still proud of as a scholar and a gentleman, who was called by Cecil "one of the diamonds of England," and whose grace and beauty and eloquence made him the favorite of Dudley and Elizabeth. In spite of all that, however, Kingsley, in his "Westward Ho" (chap. iii), describes Campion at this juncture of his life as "a grotesque dwarf whose sword, getting between his spindle shanks, gave him, at times, the appearance of having three legs, and figuring sometimes as a tail when it stuck out behind. He was so small that he could only scratch at the ribs of his horse which he was trying to mount on the wrong side, but he finally succeeded in gaining his seat by the help of a stool." He also wore "a tonsure," we are informed, "cut by apostolic scissors," and Londoner though he was, he is made to speak of his countrymen as "Islanders." Persons also is described as a blustering, blaspheming bully, who gives himself absolution for his own transgressions. All this is omitted, however, from the school edition of "Westward Ho."
Persons and Campion set to work immediately, and soon managed to call a meeting of the priests who were in hiding in various places of the country. The purpose of the summons was to let them know that the newcomers had received the most stringent orders from their superiors to keep absolutely aloof from anything savoring of politics. At Hoxton, Campion made a written statement to that effect; and it was there that he received a visit from one of the most interesting, and, to some extent, the oddest of the English missionaries – a man who was made a Jesuit by letter – the famous Thomas Pounde.
Pounde had begun by being a very conspicuous fop at the court of Queen Elizabeth. He was a favorite of the queen, and had, on one occasion, prepared a splendid pageant at which her majesty was present. One of its features was a dance, a pas seul by himself. However, as luck would have it, he stumbled and fell right at the queen's feet. The accident was ridiculous enough to humiliate him, but when his gracious sovereign honored him with a brutal kick, and called out scoffingly: "Get up, Sir Ox," Pounde arose, indeed, but not as an ox. He was a changed man. Up to that, though a Catholic, he had put his religion aside altogether. Now, he openly proclaimed his Faith and exhorted others to do the same. The result was that he was confined in almost every dungeon of the kingdom. He was loaded with fetters and shut up in cells where no ray of light could penetrate; and when liberated, either through the influence of friends, or because he had served the appointed term, he was incarcerated again. Everywhere and at all times he preached the truths of the Faith, not only in a courageous, but in an extraordinarily joyous fashion to his fellow-prisoners, or to people outside the jail, making converts of many and inducing others to amend their lives. Of the latter class was a certain Thomas Cottam, an Oxford man, who, thanks to his friend Pounde, not only became very devout, but, after he had succeeded in getting to the Continent, became a Jesuit and returning later was martyred at Tyburn on May 30, 1582.
A chance reading of the Jesuit missions in India had quite captivated Pounde, as well as a friend of his, named Thomas Stephens, who used to go around disguised as Pounde's servant. They determined to make for the Continent and to ask for admission to the Society. On the way, Pounde was captured because he had stopped too long in trying to convert a Protestant who had given him shelter; Stephens, however, reached Rome and was admitted to the Society. But instead of being sent back to England, as one would have fancied, his longing for India was satisfied, and we find him in Goa, on October 24, 1579. He was there known as Padre Estevão, or Estevan, or again as Padre Busten, Buston, or de Buston, the latter names being so many Portuguese efforts to pronounce Bulstan, in Wiltshire, England, where Stephens was born about 1549. As we see from the dates, he had then reached the age of 30. He is mentioned in Hakluyt's "Voyages" as the first Englishman who ever went to India. Hakluyt's information came from a series of letters which Stephens wrote to his father, "offering the strongest inducements to London merchants to embark on Indian speculations." These letters bore such evidence of sound commercial knowledge that they are regarded as having suggested the formation of the English East India Company.
Father Stephens spent his first five years as minister of the professed house at Goa, and was then sent to Salsette as rector, and, for a time, was socius to the visitor. After that he spent thirty-five years as a missionary among the Brahmin Catholics of Salsette, but his labors in that field did not prevent him from doing a great deal of hard literary work. Thus, he was the first to make a scientific study of Canarese. He also plunged into Hindustani, and wrote grammars and books of devotion in those languages. Most of his writings, however, were lost at the time of the Suppression of the Society. He died in Goa in 1619. (The Catholic Encyclopedia, XIV, 292.)
Pounde's Jesuit work was quite different from that of Stephens. Not being able to present himself in person to the General, he asked by letter to be received into the Order. It was on December 1, 1578, while he was imprisoned in the Tower that an answer came from Father Mercurian granting his request. That encouraged him to labor more strenuously than ever, and for thirty years he kept on defying the Government. Lingard gives one notable instance of his audacity, though the great historian does not seem to be aware that Pounde was a Jesuit. In the proceedings connected with the Gunpowder Plot, someone was sentenced for harboring a Jesuit. Pounde appeared in court to protest against the ruling of the judge, with the result that he himself was arrested. He was condemned to have one of his ears cut off, to go to prison for life, and to pay a fine of a thousand pounds, if he did not tell who advised him to act as he did. He did not lose his ear; while he was in the Tower the queen, Anne of Denmark, interceded in his behalf. Her loving husband, however, King James I, told her: "never to open her mouth again in favor of a Catholic." Finally he got off by standing a whole day in the pillory, an experience which he probably enjoyed, for in spite of dungeons and chains and loss of property and his own terrible austerity – he often scourged himself to blood – he never lost his spirit of fun. He ended his wonderful career on March 5, 1615, at the age of 76, at Belmont, breathing his last in the room in which he was born.
When Campion was caught on his way to Lancashire and brought to London, where he was stretched on the rack and interrogated again and again while being tortured, the story was circulated that he had, at last, not only recanted, but had revealed secrets of the confessional. Pounde was in a fury about it, and wrote Campion an indignant letter, but he found out that it was one of the usual tricks of the English Government. The same villainy had been practised by Elizabeth's father on More and Fisher, but like them, Campion was too true a man to yield to suffering. On August 31, by order of the queen, bruised as he was and almost dismembered by the long and repeated rackings, he was led with Sherwin to a public disputation in the royal presence. Against them were Nowell and Day, two of the doughtiest champions of heresy that could be found in the kingdom. The dispute lasted for four hours in the morning and four in the afternoon – the intention being to keep it up for days. It was during this debate that the listeners saw with horror, as Campion stretched out his arms to emphasize his words by a gesture, that the nails had been torn off the fingers of both hands. The public discussions ended after the second session, for Nowell and Day had been completely beaten. What happened in the examinations held after that, behind closed doors, the authorities never let the world know, but it leaked out that Campion had made many converts among those who came to hear him. One of them was Arundel, who subsequently died for his faith on the scaffold.
On November 14 the Jesuits, Campion and Thomas Cottam, with Ralph Sherwin, Bosgrave, Rhiston, Luke Kirby, Robert Johnson and Orton, secular priests, were called for trial. They all pleaded innocent of felony and rebellion. "How could we be conspirators?" Campion asked, "we eight men never met before; and some of us have never seen each other." On November 16, six others were cited. It was on this occasion that Campion answered the question: "Do you believe Elizabeth to be the lawful queen?" "I told it to herself," he said, "in the castle of the Duke of Leicester." Thither he had been called for a private interview, and Elizabeth recognized him as the Oxford man and the little lad of Christ Church, who, not then dreaming of the terrible future in store for him, had paid the homage of respectful and perhaps affectionate loyalty to her majesty. At that meeting were Leicester, the Earl of Bedford, two secretaries of state and the queen. As the prosecution was so weak and the defense made by Campion was so unassailable, everyone expected an acquittal, but to their amazement, a verdict of guilty was brought in. "The trial," says Hallam, "was as unfairly conducted and supported by as slender evidence as can be found in our books." (Constitutional History of England, I, 146.)
When the presiding judge asked the accused if they had anything to say, Campion replied: "The only thing that we have now to say is that if our religion makes us traitors we are worthy to be condemned, but otherwise we are and have been as true subjects as ever the queen had. In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors, all that was once the glory of England, the Island of Saints, and the most devoted child of the See of St. Peter. For what have we taught, however you may qualify it with the odious name of treason, that they did not uniformly teach? To be condemned along with those who were the glory not of England alone but of the whole world by their degenerate descendants is both glory and gladness to us. God lives; posterity will live, and their judgment is not so liable to corruption as that of those who are now going to condemn us to death." When the sentence was uttered, Campion lifting up his voice intoned the "Te Deum laudamus" in which the others joined, following with the anthem "Hæc est dies quam fecit Dominus, exultemus et lætemur in ea" (This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and exult in it.) There were conversions in the courtroom that day.
The scene at the scaffold on December 1, was characterized by the brutality of savages. The victims were placed on hurdles and dragged through the streets to Tyburn. Campion was the first to mount the fatal cart, and when the rope was put about his neck and he was addressing the crowd that thronged around, Knowles interrupted him with, "Stop your preaching and confess yourself a traitor." To which Campion replied, "If it be a crime to be a Catholic, I am a traitor." He continued to speak, but the cart was drawn from under him and he was left dangling in the air. Before he breathed his last he was cut down, his heart was torn out and the hangman holding it aloft in his bloody hand, cried out, "Behold the heart of a traitor!" and flung it into the fire. Alexander Briant and Ralph Sherwin then met the same fate. Previous to this gruesome tragedy, 4,000 people had been won back to the Faith.
Thomas Cottam and William Lacey were the next English martyrs of the Society. The latter calls for special mention. He was a Yorkshire gentleman, who for some time thought that he could, with a safe conscience, frequent Protestant places of worship, but as soon as he was made aware that it was forbidden, he desisted; and fines and vexations of all kinds failed to change his resolution. Becoming a widower, he determined in spite of his years to consecrate himself to God, and having met Dr. Allen at Rheims, he went to Rome, where, after his theological studies he was ordained a priest, and returning to England labored strenuously to revive the faith of his fellow-countrymen. He succeeded even in entering a jail in York where a number of priests were confined, and afforded them whatever help he could. As he was leaving, he was arrested and was executed a month later, August 22, 1582. Father Possoz, S. J., the author of "Edmond Campion," says "there is no mention of Lacy, either in Tanner or Alegambe, but I found, in the catalogue of Rayssius, 'Gulielmus Lacæus, sacerdos romanus qui in carcere constitutus, in Societatem Jesu fuit receptus.'" The same is true of Thomas Methame who did not die on the scaffold, but after seventeen years of captivity in various prisons, gave up the ghost at Wisbech in 1592 at the age of sixty. He was remarkable for his profound knowledge both of history and theology. There also appears on the list an O'Mahoney (John Cornelius), who was a ward of the Countess of Arundel. He was thrown into the Marshalsea, where Father Henry Garnet admitted him to make his vows. He won his crown at Dorchester on July 4, 1594. His name is not found in the "Fasti Breviores" or the "Menology," but it is given by Possoz.
The poet Robert Southwell was martyred on February 21, 1595. Writing about him, Thurston calls attention to an interesting coincidence in his life. His grandfather, Sir Richard Southwell, a prominent courtier in the reign of Henry VIII, had brought the poet Henry Howard to the block, and yet Divine providence made their respective grandsons, Robert Southwell and Philip, Earl of Arundel, devoted friends and fellow-prisoners for the Faith. The poetry, however, had shifted to the Southwell side, for, unlike his friend, Arundel did not cultivate the muse. Southwell had been a pupil of the great Lessius at Louvain, and had made the "grand act" in philosophy at the age of seventeen. At Paris he applied for admission to the Society, but was refused, and his grief on that occasion elicited the first poetical effusion of his of which we have any knowledge. Two years later, however, he was accepted; he was ordained in 1584, and became prefect of studies in the English College at Rome. In 1586 he was sent to England, and passed under the name of Cotton. Two years later he was made chaplain of the Countess of Arundel, and thus came into relationship with her imprisoned husband, Philip, the ancestor of the present ducal house of Norfolk. Southwell's prose elegy, "Triumphs Over Death," was written to console the earl. In going his rounds he usually passed as a country gentleman, and that accounts for the "hawk" metaphors which so often occur in his verse. He was finally arrested at Harrow in 1592, and after three years' imprisonment in a dungeon which was swarming with vermin, he was hanged, drawn and quartered. Even during his lifetime, his poetical works were highly esteemed.
Henry Walpole was one of the spectators at the execution of Campion, and that gave him his vocation. He was admitted to the Society by Aquaviva, and made his second year of noviceship at the now famous Verdun. He was chaplain of the Spanish troops in Flanders, and was for some time in Spain. From there he went to Dunkirk where he embarked for England on a Spanish ship which landed him on the coast sixteen miles from York. There he fell into the hands of the Earl of Huntington, a grandnephew of Cardinal Pole, but a bitter foe of the Church. He was shifted about from prison to prison for a year or more, and was stretched on the rack fourteen times; at length, he was executed at York on April 7, 1595. Roger Filcock, who was put to death at London, on February 22 or 27, 1601, was a secular priest who was admitted to the Society while engaged in the work of the missions. So also was Francis Page. He had been a Protestant lawyer, and was engaged to a Catholic lady who converted him, but instead of marrying her he became a priest. One day, while celebrating Mass, he was so nearly caught that the chalice on the altar was found, but he had time to get into his secular clothes and escape. He applied for admission to the Society and was received, but before he could reach the novitiate in Flanders he was seized, racked and put to death in London on April 20, 1602.
Twenty years after the visit of Salmerón and Brouet to Ireland, David Wolff was sent there as Apostolic delegate. O'Reilly in his "Memorials" says, he was one of the most remarkable men who labored in Ireland during the first years of Elizabeth's reign. About 1566, he was captured and imprisoned in Dublin Castle, from which he escaped to Spain. He returned again in 1572, and died of starvation in the Castle of Clonoan near the borders of Galway. Bishop Tanner of Cork had been a Jesuit, but was obliged to leave the Society on account of his health. He was imprisoned in Dublin, tortured in various ways and in 1678, after eighteen months' suffering, died in chains. In 1575 Father Edmund Donnelly was hanged and disembowelled in Cork and his heart thrown into the fire. In 1585 Archbishop Creagh, the Primate of Ireland, who was poisoned while in jail in Dublin made his confession, says O'Reilly "to a fellow-prisoner, Father Critonius of the Society of Jesus." In 1588 Maurice Eustace, a young novice, was hanged and quartered in Dublin. Brother Dominick Collins, who had been a soldier in France and Spain, was executed at Youghal in 1602. He was the last of Elizabeth's victims.
An interesting character appears at this juncture in the person of Father Slingsby, the eldest son of Sir Francis Slingsby, a Protestant Englishman settled in Ireland. Young Francis was converted to the Faith in 1630, when he was twenty-two years old; he made up his mind to be a Jesuit, but in obedience to his father's order he returned to Ireland. He was imprisoned in Dublin. At the request of the queen, Henrietta Maria, however, he was not executed but banished from the kingdom. Returning to Rome in 1636, he was received into the Society in the following year. It was the intention of his Superiors to send him back to Ireland but he was detained on the Continent for his studies. He was ordained a priest in 1641 and a short time afterwards died at Naples with the reputation of a saint. Meantime he had converted most of his Protestant relatives. In 1642 Father Henry Caghwell, who had taught philosophy to Father Slingsby, was dragged from his house in Dublin, paralytic though he was, scourged in the public square, and left lying on the ground in the sight of his friends, none of whom dared to lift him up. He was then thrown into prison and after a while flung with twenty other priests into a ship. He reached France in a dying condition, but unexpectedly recovered and made his way back to Ireland, in spite of a storm that lasted twenty-one days. A few days after landing, he fell a victim to his charity in attending the sick.
Scotland had been visited in 1562 by Father Gouda who was sent to Mary Queen of Scots to invite her to have her bishops go to the Council of Trent. He brought back with him six young Scots who were to be the founders of the future mission. Prominent among them was Edmund Hay, who became rector of Clermont. In 1584 Crichton and Gordon attempted to enter their country, but Crichton was captured, while Gordon succeeded in finding his way in, and was afterwards joined by Hay and Drury. The Earl of Huntley, who was Gordon's nephew, and for a time the leader of the Catholic party, joined the Kirk in 1597, and that put an end to the mission. Prior to that, Father Abercrombie made a Catholic of the queen, Anne of Denmark, but she was not much to boast of. Meantime, the Scots College had been founded by Mary Stuart in Paris, and later other colleges were begun in Rome and Madrid. In 1614 Father John Ogilvie was martyred at Glasgow, while his associates were banished.
Coming back to England, where more tragedies were to be enacted, we find that before Campion was executed, Persons had succeeded in reaching France. He had intended to return after he had secured a printing-press to replace the one that had been seized, but, as a matter of fact, England never saw him again. Dr. Allen would not allow him to return; he, therefore, remained on the Continent and was conspicuous as a staunch supporter of the French League in its early days, and an advocate of the invasion of England by Philip II, primarily in the interest of Mary Queen of Scots, but also, to secure a successor to Queen Elizabeth. We find him frequently in Spain on various missions: in 1588 to reconcile Philip with Father Aquaviva; at other times, to obtain from the king the foundations of the seminaries of Valladolid, Seville and Madrid, as well as of two residences which afterwards developed into collegiate establishments. Allen had left England in 1565, sixteen years before Persons, and it is worth noting that during the three years which he spent in going around from place to place to sustain the courage of the persecuted Catholics he was not yet a priest. He was ordained only when he crossed over to Mechlin, sometime in 1565; it was not until 1587, twenty-two years afterwards that he was made a cardinal; he was never raised to the episcopal dignity. He was mentioned, it is true, for the See of Mechlin by Philip II, but, for some reason which has never been thoroughly explained, the nomination, although publicly allowed to stand several years, was never confirmed. He continued to reside at the English College in Rome until his death on October 16, 1594.
For some time previously the burning question of the English succession was being discussed by English Catholics and it did more harm to the Church in England than the persecutions of Henry and Elizabeth. Elizabeth had left no issue, and had not designated her heir. Some were in favor of a certain princess of Spain, who could trace her lineage back to John of Gaunt, and both Allen and Persons espoused her cause. Others held out for James VI of Scotland; a rabid partisan on this side was the Scotch Jesuit, Crichton, who was supported by a very large contingent of the secular clergy. A similar divergence of sentiment showed itself in Rome. Thus, for example, the cardinal-protector of the English mission, Gaetano, was pro-Spanish; the vice-protector, Cardinal Borghese, was pro-French, and with him was the Jesuit Cardinal Toletus, who, though a Spaniard, was against his countrymen in this matter. The Pope was not pro-Spanish. The result was that the English College in Rome was torn asunder by dissensions or "stirs" and some of the students gave public scandal in the city. Order was not restored till Persons was recalled from Spain to be rector of the college, but even he was told to his face by some of his boisterous pupils that they would never change their opinion, and they contended that if they died for it they would be martyrs of the Faith. Conditions were much worse in England itself. Even among the priests who were confined at Wisbeach, bitter disputes were kept up year after year in a way that was the reverse of edifying. Finally, when cognizance of this deplorable state of affairs was taken at Rome, Father Persons was requested to suggest a remedy, after Dr. Stapleton, who was a pro-Spaniard, had been summoned to Rome, but had failed to arrive on account of ill-health. In 1597 Persons, now no longer rector of the college, presented to the Pope a memorial drawn up in England asking for the appointment of two bishops, one for England proper, and the other for the English in Flanders. This proposition was sent to a commission of the Holy Office, but they gave an adverse decision, namely that the new hierarchy should not be episcopal, but sacerdotal, with an archpriest at its head.
Persons, who had been from the outset insisting on the necessity of sending a bishop to England, did not easily give up his plan, and he persuaded Cardinal Gaetano to take him around to all the members of the commission in order to press his views upon them, but without avail. Out of caution, the Pope resolved not to set up the hierarchy by Papal brief, and he gave orders to the cardinal-protector, Gaetano, to issue "constitutive letters" to that effect. The draft for these letters was prepared in the Papal Archivi dei Brevi, where it is still extant (Pollen, Institution of the Archpriest Blackwell, p. 25; see also Meyer, England and the Church under Elizabeth, p. 409. Meyer is a German Protestant). Hence, it is clear that the Jesuits are not responsible for the establishment of an archipresbyterate instead of an episcopate to rule England. It was the explicit act of the Holy Office and of the Pope. Moreover, the trouble that subsequently arose was due, not from the function itself, but from the person to whom it was entrusted; for, though Blackwell was the man most in evidence at that time, and one for whom everyone would have voted, he had too exalted an idea of his new dignity, and resorted to such high-handed and autocratic methods that his rule became intolerable. As a result, two Appellants made their way to Rome, as representatives of the clergy, though, as a matter of fact, no such commission had been given them. On their arrival, they were promptly put in seclusion in one of the colleges, and were forbidden to return to England.
Then began a bitter war of pamphlets between the adherents and the adversaries of the archpriest. Persons, and the Jesuits, in general, were especially assailed. One of the malcontents, Bluet, actually put himself in communication with the Protestant Bishop Bancroft, who expressed the opinion that "it was clearer than light that Persons had no other object except the conquest of England by the Spaniards." Bluet assented, and added that "the charge against the Jesuit would be proved best by our appeal to the Pope, in which we should make all our grievances manifest." Bancroft revealed this to the queen, and the government then did all in its power to foment the dissensions and facilitate the appeal to the Pope. In 1602 another party of Appellants set out for Rome with no authorization whatever, except that of their own faction. On their way they were joined by a Dr. Cecil, who was, though they were unaware of it, in the employ of the English Government as a spy – a degradation to which he had descended, not precisely to ruin his co-religionists, but because he was under the delusion that he could so reconstruct the Church in England that it would be acceptable to the queen.
Cecil and his companions were admitted to Rome only because the French Ambassador, de Béthune, took them under his protection. He had constituted himself their patron, not, however, for religious reasons, but merely to score a point against the influence of the King of Spain with the Pope. Their reception by his Holiness was extremely cold, and when they reported back to de Béthune, he appeared before the Pope on the next day, and said: "Hitherto the Catholic policy has been grossly wrong (turpiter erratum est). Nothing has been tried except arms, poisons, and plots. If only these were laid aside Elizabeth would be tolerant. Therefore, (1) Your Holiness must withdraw your censures from the queen; (2) you must threaten the Catholics with censure if they attempt political measures against her directly or indirectly; (3) Father Persons and his like must be chastised and expelled from your seminaries; (4) the Archpriest, who seems to have been constituted solely to help the Spanish faction by false informations, should be removed or much restrained; (5) if perhaps all this cannot be done at once, a beginning should be made by giving satisfaction to the Appellant priests; (6) then, by degrees, Henri will intervene and Elizabeth's anger will cool down." As Pollen remarks: "The Frenchman's boldness was almost sublime. To throw over St. Pius V, Cardinal Allen, Gregory, Sixtus, Campion and all the seminaries, with one sweeping remark: turpiter erratum est – was worthy of la furie française. De Béthune scoffed at a past already acknowledged to be one of the glories of the Church, as a period of murder plots, diversified by armed invasions."
On October 12 the Pope gave a Brief to the contending parties to settle their quarrel. Both sides shouted victory, and the paper was at once sent to England, where it was intercepted by Elizabeth's spies. The government responded by a proclamation against the Catholic clergy, banishing them from the realm lest it might be thought that Elizabeth had ever meant to grant toleration. "God doth know our innocency," it said, "of any such imagining." The royal proclamation was cunningly devised. It declared that all Jesuits were unqualified traitors and must leave the country within thirty days. For other Catholics, a commission was to be appointed which, after three months, was to begin an individual examination of all suspects and deal with them at discretion.
By the Scottish party this was regarded as the beginning of a new era, and they, consequently, drafted an instrument stating: (1) that they owed the same civil obedience to the queen as that which bound Catholic priests to Catholic sovereigns; (2) that they would inform her of any plots or attempts at evasion, even when made to place a Catholic sovereign on the throne; (3) that were any excommunication issued against them on account of their performance of this duty, they would regard it as not binding. This statement was issued on January 31, 1603. It never reached Elizabeth, for she died in the following March. But as it stood, it was in direct contravention of the Pope's instructions to the clergy to do all in their power, short of rebellion, to restore the Catholic succession.
Before the death of Elizabeth, two clergymen, Watson and Clarke had gone to Scotland to sound James on his possible attitude to English Catholics in case he obtained the throne. Of course, he was extremely affable, to them, as he was to the English Puritans, who were just then arrayed in opposition to the Established Church. But he was no sooner king than he began to treat both Puritans and Catholics with such rigor that a plot was formed by both of the aggrieved parties to seize his person and compel him to modify his policy. Among the Protestant conspirators were such men as Cobham, Markham, Grey and Walter Raleigh. The whole history of this singular combination, however, is so confused that it is hard to pronounce with certainty as to what really was done or intended. But it appears that the purpose of the Catholic conspirators was to allow the king to be taken prisoner by the Puritans and then to rescue him from their hands. It was called the Bye Plot, and was based on the hope that James would be so grateful for this act of devotion to his interest that he would grant all their requests. On the other hand, such childish simplicity seems almost incredible. It was worthy of the visionary, Watson, who planned it.
The farce ended in a tragedy. The two priests were hanged without more ado. Of the Puritans, Cobham was sent to the scaffold, and Grey, Markham and Raleigh, after being condemned, were pardoned. King James received a letter from the Pope regretting the action of Watson and Clarke, and assuring him of the abhorrence with which he regarded all acts of disloyalty. He also expressed his willingness to recall any missionary who might be an object of suspicion, and both Jesuits and seculars were ordered to confine themselves to their spiritual duties and to discourage by every means in their power any attempt to disturb the tranquillity of the realm (Lingard, History of England, IX, 21).
In 1604 James drew up for Catholics an oath of allegiance which not only denied the power of the Pope to depose kings, but declared that such a claim was heretical, impious and damnable. It was condemned by Paul V, but the Archpriest Blackwell publicly announced that notwithstanding the condemnation, the oath might be conscientiously taken by any English Catholic, and he accepted it himself before the Commissioners of Lambeth. Bellarmine and Persons wrote long expostulations to him, but without avail. He was finally deposed from office, and Birkhead took his place as archpriest. "This measure," says Lingard, "was productive of a deep and long-continued schism in the Catholic body. The greater number, swayed by the authority of the new Archpriest and of the Jesuit missionaries, looked upon the oath as a denial of their religion; but, on the other hand, many preferring to be satisfied with the arguments of Blackwell and his advocates, cheerfully took it, when it was offered, and thus freed themselves from the severe penalties to which they would have been subject by the refusal" (op. cit., IX, 77).
Now came the disaster. Irritated beyond measure by the treachery and the tyranny of King James I, a number of Catholic gentlemen, some of them recent converts, formed a plot to blow up the House of Parliament and so get rid of king, lords and commons by one blow.
While the plans were being laid, some of the conspirators began to doubt about their right to involve so many innocent people in the wholesale ruin that must result from this terrible crime. To settle their scruples, Catesby, the chief plotter, proposed a supposititious case to Father Garnet, the Jesuit provincial. "I am going to join the army of the Archduke on the Continent," he said, "and I may be ordered, for example, to blow up a mine in order to destroy the enemy. Can I do so, even if a number of innocent persons are killed?" The answer of course was in the affirmative, and then Catesby made haste to assure his friends that they could proceed in their work with a safe conscience. But as time wore on, he was noticed by his friends to be habitually excited, very often absent from home, and apparently not preparing to go abroad, as he had said he intended to do. Hence, suspicion was aroused, and Garnet, having received some vague hints of the conspiracy, took occasion at Catesby's own table, to inculcate on his host the necessity of submitting meekly to the persecution then going on. Whereupon Catesby burst out in a rage: "It is to you and such as you," he exclaimed, "that we owe our present calamities. This doctrine of non-resistance makes us slaves. No priest or pontiff can deprive a man of the right to repel injustice." Garnet, alarmed at this utterance, immediately wrote to his superior in Rome, and in due time received two letters, one from the General, the other from the Pope, putting him under strict orders to do all in his power to prevent any attempt against the State. These letters were shown to Catesby, but he protested that they were written on wrong information, and he volunteered to send a special messenger to Rome to put before the authorities there the true state of things. This promise satisfied Garnet, and he felt sure the matter was disposed of, at least, for a time.
This was on May 8, 1605. On October 26, Catesby went to confession to Father Greenwell, or Greenway, or Texmunde, or Tessimond, a Yorkshire man, and revealed the whole plot. Greenwell showed his horror at the proposition and forbade him to entertain it, but Catesby refused to be convinced, and asked him to state the case to Garnet, under seal of confession, with leave to speak of it to others, after the matter, had become public. This will explain how the fact of the confession came out in the trial. Unfortunately, Greenwell was foolish enough to communicate it to Garnet under seal of confession. He was bitterly reproved for doing so, but it was too late; had he kept it to himself, Garnet would not have died on the scaffold. On November 5 after midnight, the plot was discovered, and Guy Fawkes, who was guarding the powder in the cellar of the building where Parliament was to meet, was seized, and acknowledged that the thirty-five barrels of powder which had been placed there were "to blow the Scottish beggars back to their native mountains" – an utterance that won from the king the expression: "Fawkes is the English Scævola." The other conspirators had time to flee, but were caught on November 8, at Holbeach House. They made a brief stand, but in the fight four were killed, among them Catesby. The others, with the exception of Littleton, who, it would seem, had betrayed them, purposely or otherwise, were taken prisoners and lodged in the Tower.
"More than two months intervened," says Lingard, "between the apprehension and the trial of the conspirators. The ministers had persuaded themselves, or wished to persuade others, that the Jesuit missionaries were deeply implicated in the plot. On this account the prisoners were subjected to repeated examinations; every artifice which ingenuity could devise, both promises and threats, the sight of the rack, and occasionally the infliction of torture were employed to draw from them some avowal which might furnish a ground for the charge; and in a proclamation issued for the apprehension of Gerard, Garnet, and Greenway, it was said to be plain and evident from the examinations that all three had been peculiarly practisers in the plot, and therefore no less pernicious than the actors and counsellors of the treason."
The mention of Gerard in the warrant arose from the fact that two years previously, namely on May 1, 1604, the first five conspirators, Catesby, Percy, Wright, Fawkes, and Winter, met "at a house in the fields beyond St. Clement's Inn, where," according to Fawkes' confession, "they did confer and agree on the plot; and they took a solemn oath and vowed by all their force to execute the same, and of secrecy not to reveal it to any of their fellows, but to such as should be thought fit persons to enter into the action, and in the same house they did receive the sacrament of Gerard, the Jesuit, to perform their vow and oath of secrecy aforesaid, but that Gerard was not acquainted with their purpose." This document is in the handwriting of Sir Edward Coke, but there appear in the original paper, just before the phrase exculpating Gerard, the words huc usque (i. e. up to this). Coke read the passage to the judges, "up to this" but the words that would have freed Gerard from suspicion he withheld. "At length," continues Lingard, "the eight prisoners were arraigned. They all pleaded not guilty, not, they wished it to be observed, because they denied their participation in the conspiracy, but because the indictment contained much to which till that day they had been strangers. It was false that the three Jesuits had been the authors of the conspiracy, or had ever held consultations with them on the subject: as far as had come to their knowledge, all three were innocent." They maintained their own right to do as they had done, because "no means of liberation was left but the one they had adopted."
Gerard and Greenwell escaped to the Continent, whereas Garnet, after sending a protestation of his innocence to the Council, secreted himself in the house of Thomas Abingdon, who had married a sister of Lord Mounteagle, the nobleman who had first put the authorities on the scent. According to Jardine (Criminal Trials, 67-70) much ingenuity was employed at the trial to prevent Mounteagle's name from being called in question. With Garnet were Father Oldcorne and Owen, a lay-brother, and also a servant named Chambers. Oldcorne was the chaplain of the house, but Hallam in his Constitutional History (I-554) says: "the damning circumstance against Garnet is that he was taken at Hendlip in concealment, along with the other conspirators." As Oldcorne and the two others had nothing whatever to do with the affair and as all the conspirators had been already shot or hanged, "the damning evidence" of perverting the facts of the case is against Hallam.
On February 1, the Bill of Attainder was read, and day after day, till March 28, the commissioners visited the Tower to elicit evidence. Oldcorne was repeatedly put on the rack, but nothing was extorted from him. So also with Owen, Chambers and Johnson, the chief steward of the house where the priests were found. On March 1, after Owen had been tortured, he was told he would be stretched on the rack the two following days. The third experiment killed him, and it was given out that "he had ripped his belly open with a blunt knife." Garnet, when threatened with the rack, replied that "the threat did not frighten him – he was not a child."
The trial was finally called for March 28. The most distinguished lawyer in the realm at that time was Attorney-General Coke. He began his charge by recalling the history of all the plots that had been hatched since Elizabeth's time; he declaimed against Jesuitical equivocation and the temporal power of the Pope, and insisted that all missionaries, and the Jesuits in particular, were leagued in conspiracy against the king and his Protestant councillors. But when he got down to the real merits of the indictment, he soon betrayed the groundlessness of his charge. Not a word did he say of the confessions or the witnesses or their dying declarations, although he had boasted he would prove that Garnet had been the original framer of the plot and the confidential adviser of the conspirators. His whole charge rested on his own assertions, and was supported only by a few unimportant facts, susceptible of a very different interpretation (Lingard, op. cit., IX, 63).
Garnet answered that he had been debarred from making known his information of the plot for the reason that it had been imparted to him under the seal of confession, and could not be revealed until it had become public property. His concealment of it, nevertheless, was considered by the judges as misprision of treason, and on that ground, and not by anything adduced by the attorney-general, was he condemned. Indeed, Coke had so utterly failed to prove his case that even Cecil confessed that nothing had been produced against Garnet, except that he had been overheard to say in conversation with Oldcorne in the Tower, that "only one person knew of his acquaintance with the conspiracy." It is this particular feature of the trial that has evoked ever since a great deal of hypocritical denunciation of Garnet's lack of veracity. When asked if he had spoken to Oldcorne or written to Greenway, he replied in the negative; but it was proved that he had done both. As it is Coke who alleges this inveracity of Father Garnet, we may reject it as a calumny for that same distinguished personage declared in his official report that Garnet, when on the scaffold, admitted his complicity in the crime, whereas this was flatly denied by those who were present at the execution. If Coke could lie about one thing, he could lie about another. But in any case a criminal court is not a confessional, and the worst offender can plead "not guilty" without violating the truth. Garnet was executed on March 3, 1606, but his body was not quartered until life had left it.
Gerard, who had been proscribed, but who was perfectly innocent of any knowledge of the conspiracy, had made haste to leave the country. It was a difficult thing to do but he finally succeeded, and at the very time that Garnet was standing on the scaffold, Gerard was leaving London as a footman in the train of the Spanish ambassador. A lay-brother was with him in some other capacity. Such was his farewell to his native country. He had been sent there as a missionary in 1588, and had stepped ashore on the Norfolk coast just after the defeat of the Armada – a time when everyone was hunting for Papists. The story of the adventure of this handsome, courtly gentleman, who had three or four languages at his disposal, who was a keen sportsman, a skilful horseman, and a polished man of the world, and was at ease in the highest society, yet who was always preaching the Gospel wherever he went, in prisons and even on the rack, forms one of the most attractive pages in the records of the English mission. He died in Rome at the age of seventy-three.
During the trial of Father Garnet, Oldcorne had been removed from the Tower and executed at Worcester on April 7 or 17. Littleton, who had saved himself at the time of the conspiracy by informing on the others, begged the father's pardon on the scaffold and died with him. Two years afterwards, on June 23, 1608, Father Garnet's nephew, Thomas was martyred in London. He was then thirty-four years old, and had been only three years a Jesuit.