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SOME KILLED; OTHERS TAKEN PRISONERS.
to do.' They answered, 'we mean here to die.' I said again, 'I would take such part as they did.' About eleven of the clock came the company to beset the house, and, as I walked into the court, I was shot into the shoulder, which lost me the use of my arm; the next shot was the elder Wright struck dead; after him the younger Mr. Wright; and fourthly, Ambrose Rookwood. Then said Mr. Catesby to me (standing before the door they were to enter), 'stand by me, Tom, and we will die together.' 'Sir,' quoth I, I have lost the use of my right arm, and I fear that will cause me to be taken.' So, as we stood close together, Mr. Catesby, Mr. Percy, and myself, they two were shot, as far as I could guess, with one bullet, and then the company entered upon me, hurt me in the belly with a pike, and gave me other wounds, until one came behind, and caught hold of both my arms."
Previous to the trial of the principal conspirators who remained alive, there had been twenty-three days occupied in various examinations; during which the general progress of the conspiracy had been slowly extracted from the confessions of the prisoners. Tresham, who is supposed to have been instrumental in discovering the plot to the government, was not arrested till the 12th of November, although Fawkes had distinctly mentioned him as one concerned. He died in the Tower before the trial. In postponing the trial, it was the great object of the government to obtain evidence that would inculpate the Jesuit missionaries. All the conspirators, with the exception of Thomas Bates, a servant of Catesby, persisted in denying the privity of the Jesuits to the enterprise. The alarm which was felt at the revelation of a treason which contemplated such awful consequences was universal; and thus we may understand how Ben Jonson, a person who, although a writer of masques for the court, was of a sturdy and independent character, appears to have lent himself to the government, in what we may regard as the odious function of a spy. There is a letter in the State Paper Office, bearing date the 8th of November, addressed by the poet to Salisbury, in which he says, "There hath been no want in me, either of labour or sincerity, in the discharge of this business, to the satisfaction of your lordship, or the State." Upon the first mention of it the day before, he had consulted the chaplain of the Venetian ambassador, who, he says, "not only apprehended it well, but was of mind with me, that no man of conscience, or any indifferent lover of his country, would deny to do it." The chaplain had recommended a fitting person to assist in the "business," but he could not be found. Jonson had made attempts in other places, but could speak with no one in person, "all being either removed or so concealed upon the present mischief." In the "second means" which he had employed, he had "received answers of doubt and difficulties, that they will make it a question to the Archpriest, with other such like suspensions." The dramatist was himself at this time a Roman Catholic. Not believing him to have been altogether in the position of a vile informer and betrayer, we are inclined to think that he was doing what other Roman Catholics were doing-assisting in the discovery of a conspiracy which the greater number of their persuasion repudiated. There was a
* In his Conversations with Drummond, he says that when adversary in a duel, (which was in 1598) "then took he his visited him in prison. Thereafter he was 12 years a papist." Shakspeare Society, p. 19.
he was imprisoned for killing his religion by trust of a friend who Drummond's Notes, published by
FEELINGS OF THE ROMAN CATHOLICS.
[1605. broad line of separation between the disciples of the Jesuits and the majority of Catholics, who lived under the more quiet guidance of the ordinary priests. Jonson was clearly endeavouring to get at some secrets which would remove from the great body of the Catholics the odium which attached to the supposed movers of this conspiracy. "For myself," he says, "if I had been a priest, I would have put on wings to such an occasion, and have thought it no adventure, where I might have done (besides his majesty and my country) all Christianity so good service." The plot was offensive to him, as it was to many others of the Romish Church, upon religious and political grounds. It was opposed to every feeling of justice and humanity. When Jonson says, "I think they are all so enweaved in it, as it will make five hundred gentlemen less of the religion within this week, if they carry their understanding about them," we hold him to mean that those Catholics who exercised their understanding would turn from a religion whose priest-led fanatics were ready to commit such an abominable crime.* We take the poet's case to be an illustration of a very general tone of feeling amongst the moderate Papists; who, whatever might be their grievances, did not see their way to redress in casting aside all love of country, and all regard for religion, by being neutral and indifferent at a time when such a fearful mystery was suddenly brought to light.
The trial of Robert and Thomas Winter, Guido Fawkes, John Grant, Ambrose Rookwood, Robert Keyes, and Thomas Bates, took place in Westminster-hall, on the 27th of January, 1606, before a Special Commission. They all pleaded "not guilty," although each of them had been brought to acknowledge the chief facts set forth in the indictment. Fawkes was asked by the Lord Chief Justice how he could deny the indictment, having been actually taken in the cellar with the powder. The report of the trial makes him say, that he had done so, because there were certain conferences mentioned in the indictment which he knew not of. Eudæmon Jones, who published an Apology for Garnet the Jesuit, declares that what Fawkes said went much further: that he stated that "none of them meant to deny that which they had not only voluntarily confessed before, but which was quite notorious throughout the realm. But this indictment," he added, “contains many other matters, which we neither can or ought to countenance by our assent or silence. It is true that all of us were actors in this plot, but it is false that the holy fathers had any part in it. We never conferred with them about the matter." In the indictment, Henry Garnet, clerk, of the profession of Jesuits, otherwise called Henry Walley; Oswald Tesmond, otherwise called Oswald Greenway and Oswald Fermour, of the aforesaid profession; and John Gerrard, otherwise called John Brooke, also of the same profession, are included as principals with the other conspirators. A proclamation was issued for their apprehension on the 15th of January. Tesmond, more commonly mentioned as Greenway, and Gerrard, escaped beyond sea.
*The letter from Jonson is noticed in Mrs. Green's "Calendar of State Papers ;" and in a review of that book, in the "Athenæum" of August 15th, 1857, the document is given in full.
See Jardine's "Criminal Trials," vol. ii. p. 120. Mr. Jardine was the first to publish any satisfactory report of this trial, and of that of Garnet, by giving the original evidence as far as it could be ascertained. We regret that in his excellent "Narrative of the Gunpowder Plot," these reports are not given.
TRIAL OF FAWKES AND OTHERS.
It is unnecessary for us to dwell upon the trial of Fawkes and the others. They were necessarily condemned, and sentenced to the penalties of treason. Sir Everard Digby was tried and found guilty at Northampton. They were all executed on the Thursday and Friday following the 27th of January. There appears very sufficient evidence that some of the prisoners believed to the last that their project was not a sinful one. Sir Everard Digby wrote to his wife, "If I had thought there had been the least sin in it, I would not have been of it for all the world, and no other cause drew me to hazard my fortune and life, but zeal for God's religion." Such was the fanaticism of Digby, a man of no great force of character, but amiable, and just in his domestic relations. When we look at the unswerving fidelity of these men to each other; their undoubted confidence of success; their utter blindness to the awful consequences of their scheme, we can scarcely doubt that they were all working together under a strong delusion, gradually taking a firm hold upon their minds through some external influence of the most powerful nature. Grant is reported to have said on the day of his execution, "I rely entirely upon my merits in bearing a part of that noble action, as an abundant satisfaction and expiation for all sins committed by me during the rest of my life." But Digby, who at first thought there was not the least sin in that action, adds in the letter to his wife, "But when I heard that Catholics and priests thought it should be a great sin that should be the cause of my end, it called my conscience in doubt of my very best actions and intentions." The great body of Roman Catholics, we may well believe, were free from such a horrible delusion. The trial of Henry Garnet, the superior of the Jesuits in England, which we shall now have briefly to notice, does not quite settle the question of the complicity of "the holy fathers;" but it leaves very little doubt of the principles upon which they acted.
Henry Garnet, an Englishman, educated at Winchester, became a member of the Society of Jesus, in 1575. In 1586 he was appointed to the mission of the Society in England; and in 1588 he became Superior of the Jesuits here. An accomplished scholar, of mild demeanour and gentle nature, he exercised great influence amongst the most devoted adherents to the ancient faith. In September, 1605, a remarkable pilgrimage, under the conduct of Garnet, was undertaken by a party of Roman Catholics to St. Winifred's Well, in Flintshire. Anne Vaux, a daughter of lord Vaux, was amongst the most devoted followers of the fascinating Jesuit; and she, with the wife of sir Everard Digby, the wife of Ambrose Rookwood, and other ladies, walked barefoot on a part of the road to the holy fountain. Rookwood himself was amongst the pilgrims; and in their long progress from Digby's house in Buckinghamshire, they rested at the houses of John Grant and Robert Winter. The time of the pilgrimage, the persons associated in it, and its suggestion by Garnet, render it difficult to believe that the smooth Jesuit would not have found many an opportunity during this fortnight's adventure, to suggest the holiest precepts of the duty of hazarding life and fortune "for God's cause." On the 29th of October, Garnet moved with lady Digby and her family, to sir Everard's house at Coughton, near the place of general rendezvous appointed for the 5th of November. Here he received the letter from Digby and Catesby announcing the failure of the great business. In December he was conducted by Oldcorne, otherwise Hall, a Jesuit, to Hendlip
GARNET THE JESUIT.
House, near Worcester. Here he remained concealed before and after the proclamation against him. On the 20th of January, 1606, sir Henry Bromley, a magistrate, arrived at Hendlip House, with a commission to search the mansion. That house was full of secret apartments, which had been constructed by Thomas Abington, a devoted recusant. There were staircases concealed in the walls; hiding places in chimneys; trap-doors; double wainscots. On the fourth day after the arrival of the magistrate, two men were forced from their concealment by hunger and cold. They were the servants of the two priests. On the eighth day an opening had been found to the cell where Garnet and Oldcorne were hidden. They had been fed through a reed with broths and warm drinks; the reed being inserted in an aperture in a chimney of a gentlewoman's chamber, that backed another chimney of their secret room. Garnet after being taken was kindly used. He was examined before the Privy Council on the 13th of February, and the examination was often repeated. But no blandishments and no threats could induce him to confess his participation in the plot. He was not subjected to torture, although his unfortunate companion, Oldcorne, and the two servants, appear to have been cruelly treated. One of these, Owen, died by his own hand in dread of a second infliction of the accursed instruments which lawyers and statesmen were not ashamed to employ in their blind zeal for the discovery of treason. Evidence of some kind against Garnet was at last obtained, by a pretended kindness of his keeper, who told him that by opening a concealed door in his cell he might confer with his fellow-prisoner, Oldcorne. Two persons were so placed that they could hear the greater part of whatever words were exchanged. There were several of these conferences between the two Jesuits; and their conversations were taken down, and submitted to the Council. The facts which they revealed certainly indicated that Garnet had a knowledge of the general scope of the plot; and that in these conferences he made no attempt to deny the truth of the accusation that he had such knowledge. When pressed upon these points he boldly asserted that he had never had any speech or conference with his fellow prisoner. Oldcorne had admitted the fact; and Garnet at length acknowledged it, justifying his previous untruth upon the principle that no man was bound to criminate himself until the charge against him was otherwise proved. He at length acknowledged that the design of blowing up the house of Parliament on the first day of the Session had been revealed to him by Greenway, who had received it in confession from Catesby and Wright. He maintained, however, that he had endeavoured to turn Catesby from his purpose. The trial of Garnet took place on the 28th of March. He defended himself with ability and courage; in which, though acknowledging " that he had done more than he could excuse by law in having concealed his privity to the design," he maintained" that he had acted upon a conscientious persuasion that he was bound to disclose nothing that he had heard in sacramental confession." He was found guilty, and received the usual sentence for treason. After his condemnation his examinations were renewed. He was condemned on the 28th of March, and was not executed till the 3rd of May. Oldcorne had been tried at Worcester, and was executed on the 7th of April. Dr. Lingard is of opinion that Garnet's defence had made a favourable impression on the mind. of the king; and that his avowals on the subject of Equivocation, after his
GARNET'S DOCTRINE OF EQUIVOCATION.
trial, led to his execution. His general principles had been thus expressed in a paper written before his trial: "Concerning equivocation, this is my opinion; in moral affairs, and in the common intercourse of life, when the truth is asked amongst friends, it is not lawful to use equivocation, for that would cause great mischief in society-wherefore in such cases there is no place for equivocation. But in cases where it becomes necessary to an individual for his defence, or for avoiding any injustice or loss, or for obtaining any important advantage, without danger or mischief to any other person, there equivocation is lawful." In an examination after the trial he goes further, and holds that an oath might be lawfully used to confirm a simple equivocation: "This, I acknowledge to be, according to my opinion, and the opinion of the schoolmen: and our reason is, for that in cases of lawful equivocation, the speech by equivocation being saved from a lie, the same speech may be without perjury confirmed by oath, or by any other usual way, though it were by receiving the sacrament, if just necessity so require." Dr. Lingard, with a candour very different from some apologies for Garnet and his doctrines which were put forth in past times, says, "The man who maintained such opinions could not reasonably complain, if the king refused credit to his asseverations of innocence, and permitted the law to take its course." Garnet's opinions were not shared by the majority of the Roman Catholics even in his own day; any more than the same body in general approved of the murderous project in which Catesby and his associates were involved. During the struggles between the two Churches in the seventeenth century, the Gunpowder Treason was the standing argument for denying liberty of conscience to our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects. Its traditions lingered through the eighteenth century, to support the same oppression in a mitigated form. They now scarcely survive even in popular prejudice; for, combined with the spread of knowledge has grown up a spirit of charity and justice, in the prevalence of which the State, having ceased to persecute or to exclude for religious opinions, has nothing to fear from the fanatic or the casuist.