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 VII.
|Castle of Wisbeach|
Hanc tu divinam ne AEneida tenta, —sed vestigia pronus adora. 1
But these brave masters of Israel having read what was in the paper, and seeing that their reputation was placed in great jeopardy by having to answer in writing rather than orally, they betook themselves with the document to make a great noise to John Elmer, or Aylmer, the pseudo-bishop. They strove in his presence to make Pounde appear all the more ostentatious, because he not only refused to become Calvinist by their exhortations, but was all the more eager to publish in his own defence against them, treatises and writings of pestilential doctrine, as appeared in that paper which had just then issued from his pen, and which they then and there presented to the bishop.
Nothing further was wanting to put his lordship in a rage; for by his furious nature he was a very firebrand with every one, and his false zeal rendered him terrible as thunder to the Catholics. He remanded Thomas off hand from London to be immured in a prison far away. This was Storford, or Bishops-Stortford Castle, Herts, thirty miles from London, on the confines of Essex and Cambridge; a lonely place and well chosen. He was thrust into a cell a few feet under ground, in which was perpetual night, no ray of the sun nor any gleam of light ever entering there, whereby to distinguish between day and night. No one was allowed to visit him, for wherever this was allowed, he would gain many to the Catholic faith. The bare and dirty ground was his bed; a pair of heavy fetters were put on his legs, and handcuffs on his wrists, and chains. To these many other sufferings were added by his brutal gaoler. 3
As the blacksmith was about to rivet the shackles upon his legs, Thomas endeavoured to kiss them, whereupon the smith inhumanly struck him with them upon his head, and drew blood; but he with a calm countenance said—"Would that blood might here flow from the inmost veins of my heart for the cause for which I suffer." The blacksmith was astonished at his words and patience under so great and so unprovoked an injury. And it pleased God, in reward of the merit of that patience, to give Thomas that soul, causing the smith to demand of him whence he possessed so great a confidence that he was of the true religion, seeing that in England "papist" and "reprobate" were synonymous terms.
Thomas gave the man such strong reasons and convincing proofs, that he was vanquished, and afterwards became a Catholic, and in punishment for it was cast into prison, where he died piously in chains— tanti est constantiam in asperis tueri.
1 Bartoli, Inghil., l. i., p. 127, vol. i.
2 To prevent interruption in this narrative, a copy of the six reasons will be given in the second part. This dispute dates in September, 1580.
3 Bishops-Stortford was then an ancient half ruined castle of the Bishops of London. It was then used as a prison by them. Gorton, Topogr. Diet., title Bishops-Stortford, says it was last used as such "by the execrable Bishop Bonner." Father Tanner, Fathep More, and Father Bartoli, borrowing from each other, are mistaken in treating this conference as taking place after Thomas had been half a year at Bishops-Stortford. Father Tanner says—"After half a year's confinement in the dark cells of Storford Castle, the authorities hoping thereby to have weakened the light of faith in him, remanded him back to London, to endeavour totally to extinguish it." The letters and papers procured from the State Papers in the Public Record Office, which are copied in the second part of this notice, clearly show the disputation to have been before, and in fact the cause of his being remanded to Bishops-Stortford. Those historians had then, probably, no certain data to guide them.