Friday, 1 January 2016

Facts Illustrative of the times of Elizabeth Queen Of England. Part 35.

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.


GEORGE GILBERT, S.J. PART VII.

Amongst Father Campion's marvellous escapes from the pursuivants, who were always upon his heels, was one at Mr. Worthington's house, Lancashire, where he was saved from seizure by a maid-servant, who, in affected anger, pushed him into a pond, and thus effectually disguised him, by covering him with mud.

The following is a copy of Father Campion's letter to Very Rev. Father General before referred to.

The first paragraph of the letter describes the passages of his career since his previous letter written from St Omers en route to England, but it shall be given.

"Having now passed by God's great mercy five months in these places, I thought it good to give you intelligence by my letters of the present state of things here, and what we may of likelihood look for to come, for I am sure, both for the common care of us all, and special love to me, you long to know what I do, what hope I have, how I proceed. Of other things that fell before I wrote from St Omers, what has sithence happened now I will briefly recount unto you. It fell out, as I construe it, by God's special providence, that tarrying for wind four days together, I should at length take sea the fifth day in the evening, which was the Feast of St John Baptist, my peculiar patron, to whom I had often before commended my cause and journey. So we arrived safely at Dover the morrow following, very early, my little man and I together. 1 There we were at the very point of being taken, and were brought before the mayor of the town, who conjectured many things, suspected us to be such as indeed we were, adversaries of the new heretical faction, favourers of the old Fathers' faith, that we dissembled our names, had been abroad for religion, and returned again to spread the same. One thing he especially urged, that I was Dr. Allen, which I denied, proffering my oath, if need be, for the verifying thereof. At length he resolveth, and that it so should be, he often repeated that, with some to guard me, I should be sent to the Council. Neither can I tell who altered his determination, saving God, to Whom, underhand, I then humbly prayed, using St. John's intercession also, by whose happy help I safely came so far. Suddenly cometh forth an old man, God give him grace for his labour. 'Well,' quoth he, 'it is agreed you shall be dismissed; fare you well.' And so we two go apace. The whole thing considered, and the like that daily befall unto me, I am verily persuaded that one day I shall be apprehended, but that then when it shall most pertain to God's glory, and not before.

"Well, I came to London, and my good Angel guided me unwittingly into the same house that had harboured Father Robert [Parsons] before, whither young gentlemen came to me on every hand. They embrace me, reapparel me, furnish me, service me, weapon me, and convey me out of the City. I ride about some piece of the country every day. The harvest is wonderful great On horseback I meditate my sermon; when I come to the house, I polish it Then I talk with such as come to speak with me, or hear their confessions. In the morning, after Mass, I preach; they hear with exceeding greediness, and very often receive the Sacraments, for the ministration whereof we are ever well assisted by Priests, whom we find in every place, whereby both the people is well served, and we much eased in our charge. The Priests of our country themselves, being most excellent for virtue and learning, yet have raised so great an opinion of our Society that I dare scarcely touch the exceeding reverence all Catholics do unto us. How much more is it requisite that such as hereafter are to be sent for supply, whereof we have great need, be such as may answer all men's expectation of them! Specially let them be well trained for the pulpit I cannot long escape the hands of the heretics; the enemies have so many eyes, so many tongues, so many scouts and crafts. I am in apparel to myself very ridiculous. I often change it, and my name also. I read letters sometimes myself that in the first front tell news that Campion is taken, which, noised in every place where I come to, so fiUeth my ears with the sound thereof, that fear itself hath taken away all fear. My soul is in mine own hands ever. Let such as you send for, supply, premeditate and make count of this always. Many, the solaces that are ever intermingled with these miseries are so great that they do not only countervail the fear of what punishment temporal soever, but by infinite sweetness make all wordly pains, be they never so great, seem nothing. A conscience pure, a courage invincible, zeal incredible, a work so worthy, the number innumerable, of high degree, of mean calling, of the inferior sort, of every age and sex.

"Here, even amongst the Protestants themselves that are of milder nature, it is turned into a proverb, that he must be a Catholic that payeth faithfully what he oweth, insomuch that if any Catholic do injury everybody expostulated with him as for an act unworthy of men of that calling. To be short, heresy heareth ill of all men; neither is there any condition of people commonly counted more vile and impure than their ministers, and we worthily have indignation that fellows so unlearned, so evil, so derided, so base, should in so desperate a quarrel overrule such a number of noble wits as our realm hath. Threatening edicts come forth against us daily; notwithstanding, by good heed, and the prayers of good men, and, which is the chief of all, God's special gift, we have passed safely through the most part of the island. I find many neglecting their own security to have only the care of my safety.

"A certain matter fell out these days unlooked for. I had set down in writing by several articles the causes of my coming in, and made certain demands most reasonable. I professed myself to be a Priest of the Society; that I returned to enlarge the Catholic faith, to teach the Gospel, to minister the Sacraments, humbly asking audience of the Queen and the nobility of the realm, and proffering disputation to the adversaries. One copy of this writing I determined to keep with me, that if I should fall into the officers* hands it might go with me; another copy I laid in a friend's hand, that when myself with the other should be seized, another might thereupon straight be dispersed. But my said friend kept it not close long, but divulged it, and it was read greedily; whereat the adversaries were mad, answering out of the pulpit that themselves certes would not refuse to dispute, but the Queen's pleasure was not that matters should be called in question, being already established. In the meanwhile, they tear and sting us with their venomous tongue, calling us seditious, hypocrites—yea, heretics, too, which is much laughed at. 3 The people hereupon is ours, and that error of spreading abroad this writing hath much advanced the cause. If we be commanded, and may have safe conduct, we will [go] into the court.

"But they mean nothing less, for they have filled all the old prisons with Catholics, and now make new; and, in fine, plainly affirm that it were better to make a few traitors away than so many souls should be lost. Of their martyrs they brag no more now; for it is now come to pass that for a few apostates and coblers of theirs burnt, we have Bishops, lords, knights, the old nobility, patterns of learning, piety, and prudence, the flower of the youth, noble matrons, and of the inferior sorts innumerable, either martyred at once, or by consuming imprisonment dying daily. At the very writing hereof the persecution rages most cruelly. The house where I am is sad; no other talk but of death, flight, prison, or spoil of their friends. Nevertheless, they proceed with courage. Very many, even at this present, being restored to the Church—new soldiers give up their names, while the old offer up their blood; by which holy hosts and oblations God will be pleased, and we shall, no question, by Him overcome.

"You see now, therefore, Reverend Father, how much need we have of your prayers and Sacrifices, and other heavenly help, to go through with these things. There will never want in England men that will have care for their own salvation, nor such as shall advance other men's; neither shall this Church here ever fail so long as Priests and Pastors shall be found for their sheep, rage man or devil never so much. But the rumour of present peril causeth me here to make an end. Arise God. His enemies avoid. Fare you well  

"E. C." 4

1 Brother Ralph Emerson, SJ.

2 George Gilbert and his Catholic Association.

3 For a copy of this famous protest, &c, see Life of Thomas Pounde, Esq., part ii.

4 Mr. Simpson, in one of his very valuable notes, says (p. 376), " That he does not know where this letter is placed amongst the State Papers; that Mr. Lemon's Calend., 1547—1580, does not give it. It is either a contemporary translation of Campion's well-known Epistle; or, if he wrote in duplicate, in English a well as in Latin, it may be his own English. It was probably written on the same day as Parson's letter, during the fifth month of his residence in England, reckoning from June 25. This would quite agree with November 17, 1580.

Since Mr. Simpson's work, viz., in October, 1872, another volume of the Calendars has been published by the indefatigable and talented Mrs. Green, the editor of so many of those essentially useful and important volumes, and to whom the public owes a great debt of gratitude. This volume is Addenda, 1580—1625, embracing all omitted matter between those dates, and amongst the rest this very letter. It may be found in Dom. Eliz., State Papers, Addenda, Vol. xxvii.^ No. 60. It has no date, Mrs. Green puts 1580 (?); but Mr. Simpson most clearly accounts for the date November, 1580. The letter in the P. R. O. is only a copy. It has been compared with the one here given, the only difference being that the modern spelling has been used.