Friday, 4 December 2015

Facts Illustrative of the times of Elizabeth Queen Of England. Part 12.

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 VIII.

Whilst thus buried under ground, unseen and unheard of among the living, his two adversaries, Tripp and Crowley, went about boasting in public how they had vanquished him, and published a book in answer to his six reasons, if indeed that can be called an answer which avoids all mention whatever of the main point in dispute, and only charges him with an abominable calumny, saying that Thomas Pounde, the Papist, defended by word and writing the doctrine that the opinions of men were to be held in greater account than the Word of God expressed in the Holy Scriptures ; thus giving a totally different colour to the good meaning he had expressed, viz., that the Holy Scriptures were to be understood, not by man's own private judgment (as the Puritans boast to have been privileged to do by the Holy Spirit), but according to the received and concordant opinion of the Fathers.

After half a year's confinement in the dungeons of Bishops-Stortford Castle, 1 the Bishop Aylmer removed him to Wisbeach Castle, whence, soon after, by an order of the Privy Council, the bishop remanded him to the Tower, for the purpose of being jointly examined with Father Campion, as we shall see in the second part of this narrative. The Lords wrote to Aylmer with this order in the month of August, 1581.
Father Henry More recounts various prisons in which Pounde was confined, but without giving dates, which probably he was unable to do. He says—"After one year" (probably in Newgate), "Pounde was removed to the Marshalsea Prison; thence he was thrust into the Tower of London; then transferred to the Compter on the other side of the Thames; thence to Wisbeach, a fortress at the head of the Isle of Ely, where for ten years he dwelt with many Priests and laymen, and most familiarly with Father William Weston. In the year 1597, he was again sent to the Tower; then to the Compter within the City; after that to the White Lion; then to the Gate-house, Westminster; afterwards to the Fleet Prison; and lastly, to Framlingham Castle, from whence he was liberated on bail by James I."

Father Thomas Stephens, who received it from Pounde, thus sums them up—" He was seven years in the Tower of London; four in the Marshalsea; half a year in Storford Castle; ten years in Wisbeach Castle; three years in Framlingham Castle; and the rest, to the number of thirty years altogether, in the various other places named."

Father Tanner says that when confined at Wisbeach his life was preserved by a singular interposition of Divine Providence. He was sitting with the others at table, when a piece of the ancient ornamental ceiling, in which was a hollow place [and where probably they secreted sacred things], fell by its own weight, and must have crushed Thomas, had not its progress been suspended; and this was looked upon as not happening by chance, because just so much of the falling ceiling affixed to the wall as was necessary, remained hanging in the air over him, covering him like an umbrella, and he experienced no injury, "some holy things being kept in it."
Father Bartoli describes Wisbeach, where he says Pounde was left to rot alive for ten years, as a famous castle, and worthily so, for its horrid dungeons, and the blessed company of so many Priests and most noble confessors of the faith, sent there to rot in that foul atmosphere and stinking and marshy spot. For Wisbeach is a castle in the Isle of Ely (an inland island formed by the waters of various rivers that wash the extremity of the county of Cambridge from the north, between Lincoln and Norfolk). There the ground is so low that it cannot let off all the water of the many streams running into it; thus for want of an outlet, the water for a large extent within becomes stagnant and brackish. A creek of the sea which runs up there, also frequently breaks in and increases the evil The prisons are rather one ruin than stone buildings; a palace near Wisbeach, a most antique place, and for a long time abandoned and forgotten, only that it occurred to the recollection of the Ministers of Queen Elizabeth to prepare it in their humanity, as a fitting place to cause by its pestilential air the deaths of the more saintly Catholics, to slay whom by the rope and the sword would be too manifest an exposure of their infamous injustice. 2 Wisbeach Castle, which had been selected in 1572, on account of its solitary site, as a place where the chief recusants should be imprisoned, and made " to live at their own charges," was now made the prison for such of "the capital Doctors and Priests" as were found " busier in matters of State than was meet for the quiet of the realm." Sir Nicholas Bacon was appointed keeper, and Michael and Carleton, the latter a sour Puritan, were to be the resident superintendents. Other places were apportioned for the other parts of England, to receive the recusants. The instructions to the keeper of Wisbeach Castle, which served for all the rest, required that, besides the usual rules of close confinement, a minister was to be appointed, to have "his charge of diet and other necessaries by the contributions of the recusants;" and the keeper was to see "that due exercise of common prayer be observed every day, and preaching twice in the week at least." At this the prisoners were to be present, or if they refused, they were to be fined at the pleasure of the Bishop of Ely. Each prisoner, moreover, was to be " twice conferred with in the week at least, as well by the minister as by other learned men sent by the bishop or that voluntarily of themselves should come for so charitable a work." But the prisoners were to have no conference with each other but at meal time, and then there was to be "no speech of any matters in controversy." Those who conferred with the minister were to have more liberty than those who did not. But none were to be allowed to have any books except a Bible, the works of the Fathers, and books licensed by the minister.
Nicholas Sanders, De Schismate, I. iii., gives a letter by a Priest from London to Father Agazzari, Rector of the English College, Rome, which states (inter alia) —" No access is allowed, and we are obliged to use' tricks to communicate with them. When any one wants to give them an alms, he walks in the neighbouring fields the day before, and cries out as if he were looking for game.

"At this sign, one of them looks out of the window, and learns by signal that there is something for the prisoners. The next night, when every body is asleep, the sportsman cautiously creeps up to the wall, and one of the prisoners lets down a basket from the window whence the sign was given, and draws up what is put into it. The same plan is generally adopted for the other prisoners; but the variety of places requires a variety of methods, and the zeal, charity, and bravery of the Catholics is greatly conspicuous in designing and accomplishing these dangerous services."3 (See Simpson's Campion, pp. 165, 166.)

1 See Thomas' letter to Sir Christopher Hatton, Sept. 18, 1580. Part second, p. 126, post.

2 Bartoli, Inghil. I. i., cap. xv., p. 123.

3 Thomas Pounde's name occurs in several of the State Papers in the Public Record Office.

1586. Domestic, Eliz., State Papers, Vol. cxc, No. 44. "Names of prisoners at Wisbeach—Recusants, Mr. Scrope, Mr. Parpoint, Mr. Pounde." There were then eighteen Priests, including Fathers Weston, Mettam, Strange, and Bickley (not then S.J.). There appears to be some misdate in this, or in the letter of Younge next mentioned ; Mr. Younge dates 1587, and says that Pounde was then in the White Lion Prison : the confusion may arise in the style.

1587. Dom. Eliz., Vol. cciii., No. 20. Letter from Mr. Richard Younge to Walsingham. He says (inter alia), "Whereas your honor thinketh it convenient that some should be sente to Wisbeach ; it is most assured that lying here in London at libertie in the prisons, they doe much harm to such as resorte unto them; especially William Wigges, George Hide, and George Collinson, Priests, prisoners in Newgate ; Morris Williams, an old Priest, prisoner in the Clink, and Thomas Pounde, prisoner in the White Lion, taken as a layman, but (as Tirrell assureth me) he is a professed Jesuite, and was admitted by one substituted by Parsons while the said Pounde was prisoner in the Tower. These are most busy and dangerous persons, and such as in no wise are worthie of libertie, neither are they within the compass of the last statute ; so that if your honor thinke so good, Wisbeach were a convenient place for them. There are so many others which will appeare to be of the same sorte, but for so much as these are principal malefactors, and that perhaps they be a number sufficient to be carried thither at one tyme. I will forbear to speake of the others until I shall deliver all their examinations."

Dom. Eliz., State Papers, Vol. cxcv., No. 115 ; Vol. cci., No. 53. " The names of divers persons certified to be receivers of Jesuites and Seminaries." The name of Thomas Pounde is added at the end, apparently in another handwriting, although he was at that time in prison.

1602/3. Dom., Jac. I., Vol. vii., No. 50. List endorsed by Cecil—"A note of the Jesuits that lurk in England. In Framingham [amongst others] Mr. Pounde, a lay Jesuit."