Friday, 11 December 2015

Facts Illustrative of the times of Elizabeth Queen Of England. Part 18.

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.


They entered on their dangerous and difficult path with " extraordinary joy and alacrity, every man offering himself, his person, his ability, his friends, and whatever God had lent him besides." George Gilbert was the first. The list includes some of the first Catholic families, the Vaux's, Throgmortons, Tichbournes, Abingdons, Fitzherberts, Stonors, &c Among them must have been at one time Lord Oxford, Lord Henry Howard, Lord Paget, and Thomas Pounde. Equipped by these gentlemen, Father Parsons and Father Campion rode forth, the first accompanied by George Gilbert, the second by Gervase Pierrepoint. They agreed to meet and take leave of each other at Hogsdon [? Hoxton], at the house, probably, of Mr. Gardiner, Father Parsons' first convert.

Just before they left Hogsdon, Thomas Pounde, then a prisoner in the Marshalsea, but who had found means to blind his keeper to his temporary absence, came to them in great haste. He said that a meeting of .associates, of the prisoners and others, had been held at the gaol to discuss the means of counteracting the rumours which the Privy Council was encouraging.

It was believed that the Jesuits had come into England for political purposes. This story, said Pounde, would grow during their absence from London and would gain fresh strength with every fresh report of the conversions which they were about to make in the shires; the Council would be exasperated, and should either of the Fathers ever fall into its hands, he would be guilefully put out of the way, or openly slaughtered, and then books would be published to misrepresent him, according to the usual fashion of the day; hereby well-meaning people would be deceived, and the Catholic cause not a little slandered. But much of this, he went on to declare, would be remedied if each of the Fathers would write a brief declaration of the true causes of his coming, and would leave it properly signed and ' sealed with some sure friends until the day he might be taken or put to death. And then, if the enemy should falsely defame him, his friends might publish the declaration to justify his memory before God and man. Hence Pounde begged both of them to write their declarations, as if they were writing their last will.

The proposition was accepted by both the Fathers. Father Parsons' paper is preserved among the Stonyhurst MSS. Father Campion rose from the company, took a pen and seated himself at the end of the table, where in less than half an hour he wrote the declaration which was soon to be so famous. It was written without preparation, and in the hurry of a journey; yet it was so "pithy in substance and style" that it was a triumph to one party, and poison to the other. 1

As Thomas Pounde may really be looked upon as the originator of this famous challenge, it may not be out of the way to give the following copy of it, taken from the State Papers in the Public Record Office. 2 It is addressed to the Lords of the Privy Council, before whom Father Campion expected to be examined when he should be apprehended. The spelling has been somewhat modernized, the original being in some parts scarcely readable.

   " Jesus — Maria, 1580.

"Most Hon.—Whereas I have come out of Germanie, and Boeme-lande, being sent by my Superiors, and adventured myselfe to this noble realme, my dear countrie, for the glorie of God and benefit of soules, I thought it likely enough that in this busie, watchfull, and suspicious worlde, I should either sooner or later be interrupted and stopped of my course. Wherefore, providinge all doubts and uncertainties, what may become of me when God shall haply deliver my body into durance, I supposed it needful to put this writinge in a readiness, desiring your good lordships to give it the readinge, and to knowe my cause. This doinge, I thinke I shall ease you of some labor, for that which otherwise you must have sought for by practice of witt, I doe lay now into your hands by plain confession. And to that intent, that this whole matter may be conceived in order, and so the better both understood and remembered, I make hereof these nine points, or articles, directly, truly, and resolutely opening my full enterprise and purpose.

"I. I confesse that I am, albeit unworthie, a Priest of the Catholic Church, and, through the great mercie of God vowed now these viij. years into the religion of the Society of Jesus; and thereby have taken on me a speciall kind of warfare, under the banner of obedience, and eke resigned all my interest and possibilitie of wealth, honor, pleasure, and other worldlie felicitie.

"II. At the voice of our General Provost, which is to me a warrant from Heaven, and an order of Christe, I tooke my voyage from Prague to Rome, where our sayd Father is always resiate, and from Rome to Englande, as I might and would have done joyfully into anie part of Christendome, or Heathenesse, had I been thereto assigned. 

"III. My charge is of free cost to preach the Gospell, to minister the Sacraments, to instruct the simple, to reforme sinners, to confute errors, and in brief to crie all arma spiritualia 3 against foul vice, and proud ignorance wherewith manie of my deare countriemen are now abused.

1 See Mr. Simpson's Campion, pp. 156—9, and the authorities quoted by him in his valuable notes, &c

2 Dom. Eliz., State Papers, Vol. cxlii., No. 20, 1580. It is the one sent up by the Sheriff of Wilts to the Council, with Pounde's six reasons, letters, &c, which will be given presently. The collection is endorsed—" Certain Papisticall reasons set down for the withdrawing of men to come to the church, sent from the Sheriff of Wilts."

3 The writing is difficult to decipher. The words may be read allarme spiritualle, though the meaning is much the same.