Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Facts Illustrative of the times of Elizabeth Queen Of England. Part 4.

Jesuits In Conflict: Or Historic Facts Illustrative of the labours of the English Mission and Province Of The Society Of Jesus. In the times of Queen Elizabeth and her successors. By a member Of The Society Of Jesus.


THOMAS POUNDE, OF BELMONT, S.J. Part I.


Among the companions who followed Father Parsons into the Society was Giles Gallop, who died soon after his admission, being allowed to take his simple vows in articulo mortis. Bombinus has made a mistake in name, in counting Brother Giles Gallop among those who were distinguished either by death for the faith, or by great labours undertaken for. Christ in England. This honour, on the contrary, is due to Thomas Pounde, who is sometimes found concealing himself under the assumed name of Gallop, Wallop, Duke, and Harrington. 1

Whilst Father Campion at Prague, and Father Parsons at Rome, are engaged, the one in the study of piety and divine wisdom, the other in the office of teaching, it will be opportune to revisit England for a little, and to behold, in the person of an invincible athlete of Christ, as well the obstinate fury of the heretics against the Catholics as their unshaken constancy in the faith; for nothing can be more striking than, on the one hand, the pertinacity of the former in harassing, and, on the other, the patient perseverance of the latter in enduring their vexations; and finally, a certain loftiness of mind in others, who, nothing alarmed by this species of virulence, offered themselves with magnanimous hearts to similar sufferings; how much more so if we show in the pertinacious hunting down of one man for thirty years that neither was heretical fury abated, nor Catholic constancy weakened. Thomas Pounde presents this spectacle to our eyes, in whom we encounter a man neither of chance nor of other times. 2

God, by a most special privilege, would prepare for the Society in England the very hospice wherein she should be born; and this was no other than the public prisons, and, singularly enough, those of the Tower of London and Castle of Wisbeach, the most renowned of all of them. And, to take possession in our name, there were confined in these prisons, for the Catholic faith, men of holy life, who, though none of them had as yet ever seen our habit, but learnt solely by report of our Institute, our life, and our works, demanded, and, as worthy, obtained admission to the Order in the same prisons. Thus we find the Society in England (a good prognostic, faithfully tested, of what was to follow) born in prison, growing amidst chains, exercised in various torments, and in a brief space made meet to appear in public upon the carts of justice beneath the gallows, where, hung by the neck, her sons preached with the voice and attested by their blood, before innumerable multitudes of auditors and spectators, the verity of the Catholic faith. And, to speak truly, there is no College of ours, however numerous, or however esteemed, whether in learning or in religious observance, or famous in any other regard, that has not just reason to feel a little envy that our seven English, with Campion himself, were all formed in the cells of the Tower of London, all in the best dispositions for that happy lot, to which the greater part of them arrived, viz., to die for the Catholic faith. 3

Thomas Pounde was born at Belmont, twelve miles from Winchester, on the 29th of May, 1539. His parents were William Pounde, Esq., and Anna Wriotesley, sister of Thomas, Earl of Southampton. His parents attest of him that he was just born when he lifted his right hand to his head, which was regarded as a future omen of the victorious combatant.

His early years, until his twenty-third, were spent in the usual study of Humanities at the College of our Lady of Winchester. From thence, going to London, he prepared himself for forensic glory and dignity by the study of the law. It is hard to say in which the gratuitous gifts of nature most abounded in him—whether mental or corporal. He appeared, indeed, more comely in each advancing stage of his life and strength, which was set off by the height of his stature and the excellent formation of his limbs, well set, nimble, and strong. He delighted in all gymnastic and corporal exercises, and displayed great agility. In more advanced life, when quite grey haired, he was a man of majestic and venerable aspect; all these graces made him no little favourite with men of high rank. He was richly furnished, too, with all the other gifts of mind becoming an accomplished cavalier—brave, of great courage, most courteous, of exceedingly polite manners, a munificent spender of money, a good orator, and of ready wit. Upon the occasion of a solemn reception of Queen Elizabeth at Winchester College, he addressed Her Majesty in a complimentary poem of his own composition, with great applause. In the art of Latin verse he attained a considerable degree of excellence.

Shortly after becoming master of his own life and expenditure, on the death of his father, eager to succeed at Court, he went into unpardonable excesses in lavishing his paternal estates on those vain delights and hopes, seeing that it pleased the Queen, and being unwilling to be outdone by others. No one will be surprised at this in Elizabeth's reign, seeing the luxury in which she herself indulged, drawing all in her train, and affording in her Court great scope for all those graces and delights of the arts, which belonged to Pounde in so eminent a degree.

He was so careless about his soul that, although a Catholic at heart, yet, in order to gain a footing at Court, he professed outwardly the Queen's religion. The sudden means employed by God, the good Father of all, to bring back to the right path so wretched a wanderer, was an admirable proof of His compassion, using, in order to win him to eternal salvation and to those great merits to which he arrived, the same means by which this silly youth so strenuously strove to bring himself to perdition.

Christmas Day, as was always customary at the Court until Epiphany, in the year 1569 4 was most remarkable for its festivities; the most magnificent plays, comedies, concerts, dances, and other games were given at the Court under the direction of Pounde himself. There were assembled here the flower of the nobility and of the youth of London, and no small space within the palace was occupied both by the spectators and performers; and the one thought and desire was to spend money there according to each one's power, and he who excelled in this was honoured by the Queen. Pounde was the lucky one of the number in the year 1569, being doubly acceptable to the Queen, both on account of his costly expenditure and gracefulness in dancing; so that what with his being so handsome a youth, and his skill in the art of dancing, surpassing all his equals in agility and grace, there was no one who would willingly be seen with him in the dance. He chose one of his most wonderful performances, which was to be the concluding one, and consisted in raising himself in the air as high as possible and standing upright on tiptoe, to spin himself round like a top, in as many turns and as swiftly as his agility and strength would allow, and especially without growing giddy and falling. He performed this exploit in such a manner, and so nimbly, that the whole theatre resounded with shouts of applause. By way of reward the Queen herself with her uncovered hand seized that of Pounde, and then snatching from the Earl of Leicester his costly cap, put it upon his head for fear lest he might catch cold, being heated and in a perspiration from his violent exertions. The triumphal laurels seemed now to crown him, when the Queen, after he had rested himself, invited him to repeat a second time the same dance. Spinning round on tiptoe more quickly than ever, he was seized with giddiness, and fell flat to the ground. The previous applause was changed into shouts of laughter and derision; but what wounded him most was that the Queen, instead of offering her hand to raise him up, as though in anger for thus spoiling the festivity, gave him a kick by the two sarcastic words, "Rise Sir Ox," 5 and then turning round, joined the rest in their laughter, to his great confusion. Stung by her words he rose indeed, but lifting himself up on one knee, with his face to the ground, he exclaimed to himself, solto voce [but loud enough to be overheard by others], that solemn sentence, Sic transit gloria mundi —" So passeth the glory of this world," and hurrying away, after a very short space leaving London, he deserted the Court and its fallacious hopes, having reaped the reward of its vanities—a wasted property and offended religion.

1 More, Hist. Prow. Angl., I. ii., n. xiv., p. 44. In the terrible times of the open persecution of Catholics, Priests were compelled constantly to change, not only their places of abode and dress, but their names also. Father Henry Garnet, the blessed martyr, had at least six or eight aliases.

2 More, Hist Prov. Angl., I. ii., n. xvi., pp. 44, 45.

3 Bartoli, Inghilterra, t. i, I. i., cap. xiv., p. 106. Edit. 1825. The seven English members were, Father Thomas Cottam, martyr; Father Thomas Mettam, died at Wisbeach; Thomas Pond; Father Edmund Campion, martyr; Alexander Briant, martyr; James Bosgrave, and John Hart. The two latter were condemned to death with Father Campion, but were reprieved and banished.

4 Bartoli states it 1569, and cites a letter of Pounde in support of the assertion, dated June 3, 1609. Father More makes it 1564. This is, perhaps, a misprint, because farther on Father More himself makes Pounde to be thirty years of age on his retiring from the Court to Belmont, 1569.

5 "Rise Sir Ox." Father More, Hist. Prow. Angl., uses the word "Bull." Father Tanner and Father Bartoli use "Ox." The expression has, no doubt, reference to the ceremony of creating a Knight for service to the State, in which case the Sovereign lays the sword of State on the back of the kneeling subject, saying, " Rise, Sir so and so." The Queen's object was to ridicule and humiliate Mr. Pounde, and, in order to do so, she parodies the form of conferring the knighthood. The term is also preferable, because the ox being a clumsy awkward animal, which the bull is not, is often used and applied to express awkwardness in a human subject, and the royal vixen, who was no fool, evidently meant to convey this idea in thus cruelly mortifying her quondam favourite.