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 XXII.
To return now to the object of our narrative. The Queen and her advisers having in vain tried by every means of promises and persuasion to induce Father Campion, who had now been apprehended, to apostatize, or betray his friends, now determined to use him severely. He was several times cruelly racked, the first time being either on Sunday the 30th of July, or the next day, the anniversary of our holy Father St Ignatius' death. It was falsely given out by the preacher at Paul's Cross, and by the ministers of nearly all the churches in London, that Father Campion was yielding, and had confessed various matters, places, and persons. On the 4th of August the Council wrote to, amongst others, the keepers of Wisbeach Prison, whither Pounde had been removed by Aylmer the Bishop, from Bishops-Stortford, shortly before, "That whereas Campion had confessed that he delivered a copy of his challenge to one Norris a Priest, commonly remaining about London; that he delivered another to one Pounde, then prisoner in the Marshalsea, who is thought to have dispersed the same abroad; that one Stephens brought the said Pounde to speak with Campion at Throckmorton House in London, and further that Pounde directed Campion by a token to one Dimock to speak with the Earl of Southampton," the said keepers were to examine Pounde on the matter. On the 14th of August the Council wrote to Bishop Aylmer, ordering him to send his prisoner Thomas Pounde from Wisbeach to the Tower, where Lieutenant Hopton is to receive him into his custody to be jointly examined with Campion, upon matters confessed by Campion about him.
When Pounde saw the long list of interrogations drawn up, as they purported to be, from Father Campion's confessions, he was wounded to the heart Could it be that the man whom he had taken for the greatest champion of Catholicism, had turned traitor ? So the same zeal which before had led him to disperse Father Campion's challenge, now led the impulsive and sanguine Pounde to an act of imprudence equally grave in its consequence. He wrote a letter to Campion, urging him to behave like a man, telling him of the reports of his backsliding that were every where current, and asking him for authentic information of what he had done. This letter he gave to his keeper, who promised for a fee of four marks to have it privately delivered to Campion. The man took the money and kept it, but the letter he gave to Hopton, who opened, and read it, and closed it again, as if it had never been tampered with, and told the keeper to deliver it to Campion, and to bring back the reply. Father Campion wrote off a note to his friend, no authentic copy of which is preserved. The most likely record of it occurs in the reports of the trials of Lord Vaux and others in the Star Chamber, 15th November, 1581 (Harl. MSS., 859),- and of Father Campion himself, where there was " a letter produced said to be intercepted, which Mr. Campion should seem to write to a fellow prisoner of his, namely, Mr. Pounde; wherein he did take notice that by frailty he had confessed of some houses where he had been, which now he repented him of, and desired Mr. Pounde to beg him pardon of the Catholics therein, saying that in this he rejoiced, that he had discovered no things of secret, nor would he, come rack, come rope." What the real meaning of this letter was can only be guessed at; Pounde's letter, to which it was a reply, was never produced, and the above sketch of it was probably a guess of Father Parsons. The natural meaning of Father Campion's words is that he discovered nothing that had not been already publicly known through the confessions of other men. 1 There is no record of the examination of Pounde in the Tower on this occasion, if indeed any took place. Perhaps none did; the Council may have feared to bring him into connection with Campion, whom they would never allow to be publicly interrogated about his reported confessions.
Pounde was present with Mr. Sherwin, Mr. Bosgrave, afterwards Father Bosgrave, and others of the Catholic prisoners in the Tower, at the famous public conference in the chapel of the Tower, appointed to be held on the last day of August, 1581, by the Bishop of London, in obedience to the Lords of the Privy Council, between Nowell, Dean of St. Paul's, and Day, Dean of Windsor, on the one side, and Father Campion on the other, which lasted for several days. During the conference, Dean Nowell complains of " Pounde's odious interpellations (as we know you to be a good Terence man'), and his most scornful looks through his fingers, staring at him (Nowell) continually whilst he was reasoning with Master Campion, to put him out of his memory;" whereupon Nowell broke out with "os impudens"
1 Simpson's Campion, p. 247, seq., where the author at considerable length, and most lucidly, proves the reported confessions of the blessed martyr to have been base and wicked forgeries.