THE GUNPOWDER PLOT.Here the autobiography of Father Gerard ends. He survived his escape from England thirty-one years, but before we proceed to examine such materials as remain to us for tracing his life during that time, we must give insertion to some notes from various sources on the concluding portion of the story he has told us, which narrative we have purposely left uninterrupted, as far as possible. And first respecting the Gunpowder Plot.
As well in his autobiography, as in the Narrative of the Powder Plot written by him, Father Gerard makes mention of three letters sent by him to three Lords of the Privy Council. Who one of these Lords was we do not know, but we take from the Record Office 1 the letter addressed to the Duke of Lenox, enclosing letters to the Earl of Salisbury and Sir Everard Digby.
" Right Honourable,—Seeing all laws, both divine and human, do license the innocent to plead for himself, and the same laws do strictly require and highly commend an open ear in any of authority to give audience and equal trial to a plaintiff in such a case, my hope is that your Grace will excuse this my boldness in offering up by your hands my humble. petition for trial of my innocence touching the late most impious treason, whereof I am wrongfully accused, by some lost companions, I assure me, who, to save themselves from deserved punishment, will not stick to accuse any innocent of any crime wherein their bare word may pass for proof. There is none so innocent but may be wrongfully accused, sith innocency itself in our Lord and Master was accused and condemned as an enemy to the State and no friend to Caesar. The servant must not look to be more free from wrongs than his Master was. But happy is that man by whom the truth is tried in judgment and innocency cleared.
" I durst not presume, being branded with the odious name of traitor, to offer my petition to my Sovereign (to whom, as God is witness, I wish long life and all happiness as to my own soul). But if by your Grace's means (of whose piety and worthy disposition I have heard so much good) the humble suit of a distressed suppliant (prostrate . at his Majesty's feet) may be offered up, I hope it shall be found not unfit for your Grace to offer, and most fit and reasonable for so wise and righteous a Prince to grant.
"My humble petition is only this. That, whereas I have protested before God and the world, I was not privy to that horrible Plot of destroying the King's Majesty and his posterity, &c, by powder (wherewith I am now so publicly taxed in the proclamation), that full trial may be made, whether I be guilty therein or not. And if so it be proved, that then all shame and pain may light upon me ; but if the truth appear on the contrary side, that then I may be cleared from this so grievous an infamation and punishment not deserved. Two kinds of proofs may be made in this cause, which I humbly beseech your Grace, for God's cause, may be performed. One is, that all the principal conspirators (with whom I am said to have practised the foresaid Plot of Powder against the Parliament House) may be asked at their death, -as they will answer at the dreadful tribunal unto which they are going, whether ever they did impart the matter to me, or I practise the same with them in the least degree, or whether they can but say of their knowledge that I did know of it. And I know it will then appear that no one of them will accuse me, if it be not apparent they do it in hope of life, but do give signs that they die in the fear of God and hope of their salvation.
" And as by this trial it will appear (in this time most fit for saying truth) that there is not sufficient witness against me, so I humbly desire also trial may be made by examining a witness, who can, if he will, fully clear me, and I hope he will not deny me that right, especially being 2 ... the place of right and justice himself. Sir Everard Digby can testify for me, how ignorant I was of any such matter but two days before that unnatural parricide should have been practised. I have, for full trial thereof, enclosed a letter unto him, which I humbly beseech may be delivered before your Grace and the other two lords, whose favour and equity I have likewise humbly entreated by these letters unto them. All which I am bold to direct unto your Grace's hands, presuming upon your gracious furtherance, not having other means, in this my distressed case, to have them severally delivered. God of His goodness will reward, I hope, in full measure, this your Grace's favour and pity showed to an innocent wrongly accused, who would rather suffer any death than not to be found ever faithful to God and his Sovereign.
"This 23rd of January."
Addressed— "To the Right Honourable the Duke of Lenox, these deliver."
Endorsed in Cecil's hand—" Gerard the Jesuit to the Duke of Lenox."
" Right Honourable,—Although I can expect no other from one in your place, but that you should permit the course of justice to proceed against any that are proved guilty of treason to his Majesty and the State, especially in so foul and unnatural a treason as was lately discovered, yet I cannot but hope where there is so much wisdom, and so vigilant a care for the preservation of this State, your lordship will also be pleased to hear, and forward to make trial, who may be wrongfully accused, knowing right well that it is as necessary in any Government to protect the innocent as to punish the offenders.
"What proof there is of my accusation I know not, and therefore cannot answer it. But this I know : that none can truly produce the least proof that ever I was made privy to that treason of which I am accused, and much less a practiser with the principal conspirators in the same, as I am denounced to be. Therefore, sith I know not my accusers, God I hope will be judge between them and me, to Whom I refer my cause, and in Whom my trust is, and ever shall be, that He will right me.
" In the meantime my humble request is, that your lordship, who have been so often seen to be pitiful towards any in distress, and a potent helper to those who were oppressed (a special ornament in so eminent a person, and much commended and rewarded by God Himself), will show your accustomed commiseration in my case, and afford me therein such audience as may be sufficient to make trial of my innocency. Wherein your lordship shall imitate the just proceeding of the highest Lord, from Whom both yourself, and all that govern, have all your power. For God Himself, although He know all things before He call us to account, yet, to give us the form of just proceeding, is said in Holy Scripture to be ever careful in hearing what the accused can say for himself before He proceeds to give sentence. So we read that God said to Abraham, ' Clamor Sodomorum, &c, multiplicatus est, &c, descendant et videbo utrum clamorem qui venit ad me opere compleverint> an non est ita, tit sciam! So again in the Gospel when He heard a complaint against His steward, He would not proceed against him without full audience, but called him and said, ' Quid hcec audio de te ? redde rationem villicationis tace! These most high and worthy examples I trust your lordship will follow in my case, as you have been known to do with others. And then I doubt not but that shall appear true which I have most sincerely protested before God and the world.
" My humble petition therefore is, that a witness may be asked his knowledge who is well able to clear me if he will, and I hope he will not be so unjust in this time of his own danger as to conceal so needful a proof being so demanded of him. Sir Everard Digby doth well know how far I was from knowledge of any such matter but two days before the treason was known to all men. I have therefore written a letter unto him, to require his testimony of that which passed between him and me at that time. Wherein, if I may have your lordship's furtherance to have just trial made of the truth whilst yet he liveth, I shall ever esteem myself most deeply bound to pray for your lordship's happiness both in this world and in the next. In which hope I will rest, your lordship's prone and humble suppliant, never to be proved false to King and country,
"John Gerard." This 23rd of January."
Addressed— "To the Right Honourable the Earl of Salisbury, Principal Secretary to his Majesty, these."
Endorsed in Cecil's hand—" Gerard the Jesuit to my son."
"Sir Everard Digby,—I presume so much of your sincerity both to God and man, that I cannot fear you will be loth to utter your knowledge for the clearing of one that is innocent from a most unjust accusation, importing both loss of life to him that is accused, and of his good name also, which he much more esteemeth.
" So it is that upon some false information (given, as I suppose, by some base fellows, desirous to save their lives by the loss of their honesty) there is come forth a proclamation against my Superior, and one other of the Society, and myself, as against three notorious practisers with divers of the principal conspirators in this late most odious treason of destroying the King's Majesty and all in the Parliament House with powder. And myself am put in the first place, as the first or chiefest offender therein.
"Now God I call to witness, Who must be my Judge, that I did never know of it before the rumour of the country brought it to the place where I was, after the treason was publicly discovered. And if this protestation be not sincerely true, without any equivocation, and the words thereof so understood by me, as they sound to others, I neither desire nor expect any favour at God's hand when I shall stand before His tribunal. But because this protestation doth only clear me in their opinion who are so persuaded of my conscience that they think I would not condemn my soul to save my body (which I hope by God's grace shall never be my mind): therefore, to give more full proof of my innocency to those also who may doubt the truth of my words, I take witness to yourself whether you, upon your certain knowledge, cannot clear me. I wrote a letter before Christmas which I hoped would be sufficient to have cleared me ; wherein, beside a most serious protestation (such as no honest man can use if he were guilty, as for my part my conscience doth persuade me), I alleged some other reasons which did make it more than probable, in my opinion, that I was neither to be charged with this late treason, nor chargeable with former dealing in State matters. But I did of purpose forbear this proof (which now I allege), although I did assure myself it would clear me from all just suspicion of being privy to that last and greatest treason ; and I did forbear to set it down, in regard I would' not take knowledge of any personal acquaintance with you, especially at your own house, not knowing how far you were to be touched for your life, and therefore would not add unto your danger. But now that it appears by your confession and trial in the country that you stand at the King's mercy for greater matters than your acquaintance with a priest, I hope you will not be loth I should publish that which cannot hurt you, and may help myself in a matter of such importance. And as I know you could never like to stoop to so base and unworthy a humour as to flatter or dissemble with any man, so much less can I fear that now (being in the case you are in) you can ever think it fit to dissemble with God, or not to utter your every knowledge, being required as from Him, and in the behalf of truth. Therefore I desire you will bear witness of the truth which followeth (if it be true that I affirm of my demand to you, growing upon my ignorance in the matter then in hand) as you expect truth and mercy at God's hand hereafter.
" First, I desire you to bear witness whether, coming to your house upon All Souls' Day last, before dinner, with intention and hope to celebrate there, and finding all things hid out of the way and many of your household gone, you did not perceive me to be astonished at it, as a thing much contrary to my expectation. Whereupon I asked you what was become of them. And when you told me you had sent them into Warwickshire, and your hounds also, and yourself were going presently after, about a hunting match which you had made, though I seemed satisfied for the present because a stranger was there with you, yet whether I did not soon after (when I had compared many particulars together which seemed strange unto me) draw you into a chamber apart, and there urge you to tell me what was the reason both of that sudden alteration in your house and of divers other things which I had observed before, but did not until then reflect upon them so much, as, for example, the number of horses that you had not long before in your stable, the sums of money which I had been told you had made of your stock and grounds, which (said I) in one of your judgment and provident care of your estate, are not likely to be done without some great cause, and seemed to think you had something in hand for the Catholic cause. Your answer was, ' No, there was nothing in hand that you knew of, or could tell me of.' And when I replied that I had some fear of it by those signs, considering you would not hurt your estate so much in likelihood without some cause equivalent (for I knew very well you meant to pay the statute, and so stood not in fear of losing your stock), and therefore willed you to look well that you followed counsel in your proceedings, or else you might hurt both yourself and the cause, your answer was (which I have remembered often since), < That you respected the Catholic cause much more than your own commodity, as it should well appear, whensoever you undertook anything,' I asked you once again whether, then, there were anything to be done, and whether you expected any help by foreign power, whereunto you answered, holding up the end of your finger, that you would not adventure so much in hope thereof. Then I said, 'I pray God you follow counsel in your doings. If there be any matter in hand, doth Mr. Walley [Father Garnet] know of it?' You answered, 'In truth, I think he doth not.'Then I said further, ' In truth, Sir Everard Digby, if there should be anything in hand, and that you retire yourself and company into Warwickshire, as into a place of most safety, I should think you did not perform the part of a friend to some of your neighbours not far off, and persons that, as you know, deserve every respect, and to whom you have professed much friendship, that they are left behind, and have not any warning to make so much provision for their own safety as were needful in such a time, but to defend themselves from rogues.' Your answer was (as I will be sworn), ' I warrant you it shall not need.' And so you gave me assurance that, if there had been anything needful for them or me to know, you would assuredly have told me. So I rested satisfied and parted from you, and after that I never saw you nor any of the conspirators. These were my questions unto you. And thus clear I was from the knowledge of that Plot against the Parliament House, whereof, notwithstanding, I am accused and proclaimed to be a practiser with the principal conspirators. But I refer me to God and your conscience, who are able to clear me, and I challenge the conscience of any one that certainly expecteth death, and desireth to die in the fear of God and with hope of his salvation, to accuse me of it if he can. God, of His mercy, grant unto us all grace to see and do His will, and to live and die His servants, for they only are and shall be happy for ever.
" Your companion in tribulation, though not in the cause,
Postscript, — u I hope you will also witness with me that you have ever seen me much averted from such violent courses, and hopeful rather of help by favour than by force. And, indeed, if I had not now been satisfied by your assurance that there was nothing in hand, it should presently have appeared how much I had misliked any forcible attempts, the counsel of Christ and the commandment of our superiors requiring the contrary, and that in patience we should possess our souls."
Addressed —" To Sir Everard Digby, prisoner in the Tower."
Endorsed in Cecil's hand —" Gerard the priest to Sir Everard Digby."
From Father Bartoli 3 we take a letter written from Rome, twenty-five years after the Powder Plot, addressed by Father Gerard to Dr. Smith, Bishop of Chalcedon, and Vicar Apostolic of England. The translation from Bar-toli's Italian version is a very old one; the date of the letter is September i, 1630.
"My Lord,—Not long since I received information that a manuscript dissertation, with the title of Brevis Inquisitio, &c, had been circulated in your parts; in the course of which it is pretended that a certain person continues to glory, to the present day, that by working under ground in the mine of Mr. Catesby and other conspirators, by excavating and carrying out the soil with his own hands, he has often found his shirt wet through and dripping with sweat as copiously as if it had been dragged through a river; and that this person is no other than myself, according to the opinion expressed in the letter. I despised such an idle tale as undeserving of an answer, knowing it, as most others must know it, to be not only most false, but, moreover, most remote from probability. I only begged of a good priest, who was setting out for England, to make known to your lordship what I had heard concerning such a deed laid to my charge, so contrary to all truth and justice; and that I hoped you would not give credit to it, but rather on hearing it mentioned by any one, would show the falsehood as it is. But in the meantime, while the priest is yet on his journey, I have learned from good authority that the book has been printed and published, curtailed indeed of that story, which is, however, circulated in manuscript through the hands of many, with every circumstance and embellishment; whence has arisen the general opinion that I am the person there spoken of, the testimony of a priest being alleged, who says that he has heard me boast of it. Truly I cannot sufficiently express my astonishment on perceiving that there can be found a Catholic, and if a priest so much the worse, who has so shameless a conscience as to dare assert what he must necessarily know to be false, and injurious to one who never did him any harm or injury whatever. This I can affirm of myself with respect to every priest in England, to many of whom I have often afforded assistance, but, to my knowledge, have never offended one. Your lordship, moreover, must be aware how very improbable it is that I should boast of a crime so false, so horrible. Now, with all due reverence, I call God to witness that I had no more knowledge of the conspiracy than a new-born infant might have ; that I never heard any one mention it; that I had not even a suspicion of the provision of gunpowder for the mine, excepting only when the Plot was detected, made public, and known to every one, and when the conspirators appeared openly in arms in the county of Warwick; then only did I hear of it for the first time, by a message brought to the place where I resided ; and this place was so ill provided that of itself it proved I could have no knowledge of the conspiracy, either from the expressions of others or from my own suspicions; there being in that place neither men nor arms sufficient to defend us from the marauders, who on every occasion of similar commotions issue forth and unite in bodies for plunder. Neither did this happen for want of sufficient means to furnish and reinforce the house with men and arms, but solely because we had no suspicion of a commotion, much less any knowledge of a conspiracy. Besides this, the accomplices in the Plot were subjected to the most rigorous examination, and questioned concerning me ; and although some of them under the torture named one or others of those who were privy to the conspiracy, nevertheless all constantly denied it of me. Sir Everard Digby, who, of all the others, for many reasons, was most suspected of having possibly revealed the secret to me, protested in open court and declared that he had often been instigated to say I knew something of the Plot, but that he had always answered in the negative, alleging the reason why he had never dared to disclose it to me, because, he said, he feared lest I should dissuade him from it. Therefore the greater part of the Privy Councillors considered my innocence established, it being proved by the concurrent testimony of so many, and by a letter in which I defended and cleared myself from such a groundless suspicion. In that letter, besides the reasons therein produced in proof of my innocence, I protested before Heaven and earth that, so far from being engaged in the conspiracy, I was as ignorant of it as man could be. Being at that time in imminent danger of falling into the hands of the Privy Councillors, who with the most refined diligence sent in every direction in quest of me, I had thoughts of surrendering myself up to every torment imaginable, and what is more to be regarded, to the terrible and disgraceful charge of perjury, if having me in their power they could convict me, by legal proof, of being privy to the conspiracy. There was a time when, under Elizabeth, they held me prisoner for something more than three years, during which period, many times and in as many ways as they chose, did they examine me, to discover in general if I had ever meddled in affairs of State. I challenged them to produce in proof a single character in my hand, a single word, or anything else sufficient to show it, and then to punish me when convicted with the most cruel death that could be inflicted. There never was brought forward the smallest trace or shadow of a proof. How much more improbable is it that I should consent to a Plot so inhuman, I who, from the natural disposition of my soul, independently of supernatural motives, hold in abhorrence everything that has the smallest appearance of cruelty. This I can affirm with truth, that from the time I first embraced the profession of life in which I am engaged, down to the present moment, I have never, by God's mercy, desired the grievous harm, much less the death, of any man in the world, although he may have been my most inveterate enemy: how could I then have had any hand or part in the sudden, unexpected, and on that account tremendous death of so many personages of such high quality, for whom I have ever borne the greatest respect. A person was employed to scatter copies of my fore-mentioned letter through various streets of London, and one in particular was delivered to the Earl of Northampton, and by him laid before the King, on whom my reasons so far prevailed to his satisfaction that he would have desisted from the rigorous search made after me, had not Cecil, for his own private ends, rendered him more violent than ever. For being persuaded that some of the conspirators had plotted against his life in particular, and knowing that most of them were my friends, he hoped if he could once lay hold of me, to find out from me how many and who were the conspirators. For this sole reason he never rested until he had again persuaded the King, as a thing evidently known to him and clearly demonstrated, that I was not only an accomplice, but the ringleader in the Plot, and therefore to be the first named in the proclamation; which was so done. Perceiving from this that the persecution was not likely to abate, and that I might be discovered and arrested, I took the advice to withdraw myself for a time, and to 'give place to wrath,' and, after so many years of hard labour in England, with the Apostles 'to come apart into a desert place and rest a little': nor was there any other principal motive of my leaving the kingdom. In fine, this is the simple naked truth; I was totally ignorant of the provision of gunpowder and of the mine; I was and I am as innocent of this and of every other conspiracy as your lordship or any other man living; and this I affirm and swear upon my soul, without any equivocation whatsoever; in such sort, that if the facts do not correspond truly to the meaning of the words, or if I had any information of the fore-mentioned Plot before it was made public to the whole world, as I have before said, I own myself guilty of perjury before God and men ; and as far as it is true that I had no knowledge of it, so far and no more do I ask mercy at the throne of God : and it is very probable that it will not be long before I must appear at the divine tribunal, considering my age and the present contagion in the neighbourhood ; for if it should reach us it is hardly possible I can escape, on account of the assistance which it is my duty to render to this Community, whose souls are committed to my care, 4 Therefore I am induced to hope that your lordship will not consider me so careless and prodigal of my eternal salvation, after having spent so many years in no other employment than that of seeking to know and to accomplish, the will of God, and of teaching the same to others, as to be now willing to burthen my conscience and risk the salvation of my soul by a protestation so solemn and spontaneous, if my conscience were not pure, my cause evident, and my words true in all sincerity. Now, as I doubt not that God, the Supreme Judge, Who sees and knows all things, will pass sentence on my cause according to its merits, so I hope that your lordship, now knowing me to be innocent, will not wish me to appear guilty, by permitting to stand against me without contradiction an accusation so false and of such enormous infamy. Since this accusation derives its greatest force from the authority of your lordship, who, it is publicly said, gives credit and support to it, I beseech you, by that love which you have for charity and justice, to oppose the falsity of the calumny by the truth of this my justification With respect to the priest, whoever he may be, by whose false allegation your lordship appears to have been deceived, I desire with all my heart he may meet with true repentance before he dies, so that we may all live together and love God in a blessed eternity."
Next, we find, in Father Henry More's History of the English Province S.J., 5 a letter from Father Thomas Fitz-herbert, Rector of the English College at Rome, of which house Father Gerard was then Confessor. It is not necessary for us to translate it from his Latin version, as it exists in English amongst the Stonyhurst MSS. 6 It is dated some months later than the foregoing letter of Father Gerard, and was sent by Mutius Vitelleschi, General of the Society, to the Bishop of Chalcedon, by the hands of Fathers Henry Floyd and Thomas Babthorpe, who were at the same time bearers of a second letter from Father Gerard to Bishop Smith, extracts from which we subjoin, translated from Bartoli. 7
" Right Rev. and my honourable good Lord,—Having understood that one of our Society hath been of late traduced, tacito nomine, in a printed book as to have bragged that he had sweat in working in the Powder Plot, and that your lordship have named him, and as it seemeth, dost believe him to be Father John Gerard, I think myself obliged to represent to your lordship's consideration some things concerning him, and that matter, as well in respect of the common bond of our religion and his great merits, as also for that he is at this present under my charge (albeit I acknowledge myself unworthy to have such a subject), and lastly for the knowledge I have had many years of his innocency in that point ever since that slanderous calumny was first raised by the heretics against him, at which time I myself and many other of his friends and kinsmen did very diligently and curiously inform ourselves of the truth thereof, and found that he was fully cleared of it even by the public and solemn testimony of the delinquents themselves, namely, of Sir Everard Digby (with whom he was known to be most familiar and confident), who publicly protested at his arraignment that he did never acquaint him with their design, being assured that he would not like of it, but dissuade him from it ; and of this I can show good testimony by letters from London written hither at the same time, bearing date the 29th of January, in the year 1606. Therefore, to the end that your lordship may the better believe it, I have thought good to show the same to some very credible persons, who are shortly to depart from hence, and do mean to present themselves to your lordship, of whom you may (if it please you) understand the truth of it. Besides that for your better satisfaction, I have also by our right reverend Father General's express order and commission, commanded him in their presence upon obedience (which commandment we hold by our Rule and Institute to bind, under pain of mortal sin) to declare the truth whether he had any knowledge of that Powder Plot or no, and he hath in their presence protested upon his salvation, that he had never any knowledge of it, either by Sir Everard Digby, or any other, until it was discovered, and that he came to know it by common fame ; besides that [he] alleged many pregnant proofs of his innocency therein, which I omit to write, because he himself doth represent them to your lordship by a letter of his own ; and of this also the witnesses aforesaid may inform your lordship if you be not otherways satisfied. In the meantime, I have only thought it my part to give this my testimony of his solemn protestation and oath, and withal to send to your lordship the enclosed copies of two clauses of letters from England and Flanders touching this matter, not doubting but that your lordship's charity will move you to admit the same as sufficient to clear him of that calumny, seeing there was never any proof produced against him, nor yet any ground of that slander but the malicious conceit and suspicion of heretics, by reason of his acquaintance with some of the delinquents, in which case a solemn protestation and oath, as he hath freely and voluntarily made, may suffice both in conscience and law for a canonical purgation to clear him from all suspicion as well of that fact as of all collusion or double dealing in this his protestation, especially seeing that he hath always been not only integerrimӕ famӕ, but also of singular estimation in England for his many years' most zealous and fruitful labours there, and his constant suffering of imprisonment and torments for the Catholic faith. Besides that, he hath been ever since a worthily esteemed and principal member of our Society, and given sufficient proof of a most religious and sincere conscience, to the edification of us all. This being considered, I cannot but hope that your lordship will rest satisfied of his innocency in this point, and out of your charity procure also to satisfy others who may have, by any speech of your lordship's, conceived worse of him than he hath deserved ; for so your lordship shall provide as well for the reparation of his fame as for the discharge of your own conscience, being bound both by justice and charity to restitution in this case, as I make no doubt but that your lordship would judge if it were another man's case; yea, and exact also of others if the like wrong had been done either to yourself, or to any kinsman, dear friend, or subject of yours, all which he is to me; and, therefore, I am the bolder, I will not say to expect this at your lordship's hands (because it doth not become me), but humbly to crave it of you as a thing which I shall take for a favour, no less to myself than to the Society; and so this to no other end, I humbly take my leave, wishing to your lordship all true felicity, this 15th of March, 1631.
"Your lordship's humble servant,
" Thomas Fitzherbert."
" Ex Literis P. Ægidii Schondonchii Seminarii Audomarensis Rectoris 1 Martii 1606:
"'Dum has scribo accepi literas recentissime datas a viro claro quibus significavit Dominum Everardum Dig bӕum, dum a Judicibus pronuntiaretur in eum mortis sententia, coram eisdem protestatum esse nullum penitus in Anglia Jesuitam hujus rei fuisse conscium, Nam, inquit, familiaris Patri Gerardo si quis alius, neque unquam ausus fui indicare tantillum, veritus ne conaretur frangere nostros conatus. Itaque sancte asseruit se id solo ex puro Catholicӕ ac Romanae Ecclesiae zelo neque ullo alio humano respectu suscepisse.'
" Out of the letter of Father Michael Walpole written to Father Persons, the 29th of January, 1606:
"'Touching Gerard's letter which I have seen, I can only say this much, that it seemeth to me to be so effectual, as nothing can be more, so that I am fully persuaded that the King's Majesty himself and the whole Council remain satisfied of him [in] their own hearts, and his Majesty is reported for certain to have declared so much in words upon the sight of his letter.'
" In the end, after his name, he writeth as followeth:
"'This letter is confirmed since by Sir Everard Digby's speech at his arraignment, in which he cleared all Jesuits and priests (to his knowledge) upon his salvation. And in particular, that though he was particularly acquainted with Gerard, yet he never durst mention this matter, being fully assured that he would be wholly against it, to which my Lord of Salisbury replied, affirming the contrary, and that he knew him to be guilty.'"
The first extract of the letter enclosed from Father Gerard runs thus:
" It is known to all how those of my blood have loved and served King James. My father knew it to his cost, for he was twice imprisoned for attempting to set free the glorious Queen Mary, the King's mother, and to secure the succession to her children : which intent of his own was so clear to the Ministers of State, that besides imprisonment, to purchase his life of them cost him some thousands of crowns, especially the first time when there were but three accused and he one of them, and of the other two, one lost his life. Of all which King James was mindful when he came from Scotland to be crowned King of England, and my brother at York offered him his service and that of all his house. ' I am particularly bound,' said he, 'to love your blood, on account of the persecution that you have borne for me,' and of that his love he there gave him the first pledge by making him a knight." 8
The remaining extract concludes our series of exculpatory letters:
" I send your lordship a copy of the three letters that I wrote to three Councillors of State, that you may see in them how I trusted to my innocence, when I offered to put it to the proof in the two ways which I there proposed to them. Further than this, though the conspirators had been put to death, and I saw that the course proposed by me to the Councillors was not accepted, while the matter was fresh, and I yet in London, I requested of our Fathers that I might present myself in person to the Council of State, which I would have done had they but given me leave; and if the Council would have proceeded against me, not on the score of religion, but for the conspiracy only, which alone was in question, and for which, if they had found me guilty of it, they might have done to me their very worst This request I can swear that I made and renewed several times to our Fathers, and there are some yet alive who can bear witness to it; but it did not seem good to them to consent to it."
The matter does not seem to have rested here, unless there is some mistake in a date, for Dr. Lingard 9 quotes from a MS. copy, 10 dated April 17, 1631, an affidavit made by Anthony Smith, a secular priest, before the Bishop of Chalcedon, "that in his hearing, Gerard had said in the Novitiate at Liege, that he worked in the mine with the lay conspirators till his clothes were as wet with perspiration as if they had been dipped in water ; and that the general condemnation of the Plot was chiefly owing to its bad success, as had often happened to the attempts of unfortunate generals in war." It would seem as if this were the original accusation, in answer to which the letter given above was written and that its date should be 1632. This would be the date if, though written in Rome, it was in Old Style. Of the attack on Father Gerard, Dr. Lingard says, " For my own part, upon having read what he wrote in his own vindication, I cannot doubt his innocence, and suspect that Smith unintentionally attributed to him what he had heard him say of some other person." 11
1 P.R.O., Domestic, James I., vol. xviii. n. 35.
2 Here the paper is torn, and three or four words are consequently illegible.
3 Inghilterra, lib. vi. cap. 6, p. 513.
4 He was then Confessor in the English College at Rome.
5 Lib. vii. n. 44, p. 339.
6 Angl. A. vol. iv. n. 92.
7 Inghilterra, pp. 510, 512.
8 Bartoli, Inghilterra, lib. vi. c. 6, p. 510.
9 History of England, ed. 1849, vol. vii. p. 549.
10 There are copies in the archives of the See of Westminster. The date of the following is later than that quoted by Dr. Lingard.
"Copia. Ego infrascriptus testor me audivisse P. Joannem Gerardum Societatis Jesu, dum Superior esset in Novitiatu Anglicano Leodii, jactantem quod dum foderet sub domo Parlamentaria Londini una cum aliis in actione pulveraria ipsius et eorum indusia erant ita madida sudore ac si ex aqua fuissent extracta. Londini 22 Junii 1631. Anthonius Smithӕus. "Concordat cum originali. Ita testor, G. Farrarus Nots. Aposts " Endorsed in the handwriting of the Bishop of Chalcedon "Wet shirt in Latin."
11 There is a letter extant from Father Blount, the Provincial, to the General, dated Feb. 10, 1632, which has been understood to relate to the accusation against Father Gerard, or to a similar accusation against some other member of the Society. It must, however, relate to some other matter, as it says, "Vivit enim adhuc author ipse criminis," and that the alleged offence took place five years before the entrance into the Society of the Father in question.