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 XV.
Petition to the Lords of the Privy Council 1
"To the Right Hon. the Lords of Her Majestie's Privy Council, by all the Catholics in England, with, one consent, as far as a few may presume of the minds of all the rest
"Right Hon.—Whereas, oure Catholicke Prelates and Pastours are, and long have been either in prisons put to silence, or else in banishment, and all their bookes (God knoweth of what feare) also forbidden, which at the first they were challenged to put out as though they had no learning on their side to alleage. Verily, if it may please your honors, this maketh many hundreds, yea, thousands I might say, the more suspect our adversaries of fainting in their defence of learning, if the learned on our side should be admitted to anye manner of encounter in open conference with them. Nevertheless, a certain show there is now made, no doubt, at their petition, as if they mistrusted not their cause that way, in that they come of late, and urge us, the inferior sort of our side, here in our chambers within the prisons to abide some conference with them. But when was it ever hearde, if your wisdoms will consider of it, that truth having the time to support it, did ever flie the day light, and creepe into corners? Our Saviour thus answered for all true preachers' example, when He was asked of His doctrine, Ego pedant locutus sum mundo, etc.—I have uttered my doctrine to the world openly; I have ever taught in the Synagogues, and in the Temple, where all the Jews frequent, and in angles I have used noe speech. Why asketh thou Me ? sayth He; aske them which have openlie heard Me, what My doctrine hath been. This noble answer, indeed, did cost our sweet Saviour a blowe on the eare. Your honours' pardon, yet we crave upon our knees, for [? aid] in this cause, which is God's cause, and of so many thousands of innocent people in. this lamentable time of famine, both of truth and virtue. We beg the same of Her Majestie and you with one common crie; and them, more boldly we require, that they will soe speake openlie vnto vs likewise, and not in corners, where, if themselves be convinced, yet their shame shall be covered, and the seducer never the sooner detected. But withall, our humble suite to your honours is, that they may not only speake in open places to us, but that our preachers may have free leave and license to speake in the same place as openly to them again. Without which equal permission it is most evident that by any close conference nothing less is sought for than the truth, but either some glorie to our adversaries without victory, Or the discredit of us, to make us to be reported for obstinate and ignorant men, through their good tongues, whose envie at us, we are acquainted with. But if Her Majestie, whose princely uprightness, with zeal of truthe, love of her people, and of learninge also, we honour on our knees, will vouchsafe to proclaim her edict of free leave and license to anie of our side in prison or abroade, within or without the realm, to come before her royal presence, and to be permitted to open audience either by disputation, or by preaching interchangeably, which way soever our adversaries dare accept, no more but upon the honour of a prince's word, for our own assistants' safeties, whatsoever throwing of daggers, or shooting of daggers happen to them afterwards, as to the weaker side by malice of detected spirits, wherein God's will be done, seeing it is in zeal of souls, and for victory of truth. If, then, I say, there do not come forth before her Highness, either four to four, or six to six, within fortie days after to join the spiritual battle with them, yea, and that two or three of them shall challenge all their side to this combat, and give them leave to send to Geneva for Beza and all his brethren, to assist them, then do I the penner hereof for all our side, although most unworthie of that service, being, as I am, alreadie in your hands and mercie, I say I doe most willingly yield my head to you to be cut off, and my quarters to be set on London gates, at the forty days' ende. If our adversaries be afraid, as most certain it is they are, to come to such an open conference, then we humbly beseech your honours, let them not offer that here in angles, like vain men, to our uncharitable vexation, which not one but they doe obstinately refuse in open places against their owne salvation. But let this petition, made in the name of all the Catholicke fathers of our nation, remain for a perpetuall recorde and testimonie even to our enemies of our indifference, and of their insufficiencie. Muse not, my Lords, at this challenge, with a counterbuff, as the soldier saithe. For it is made in the further behalfe (as it may be presumed) of a perpetuall corporation and succession of moste learned Fathers, as anie without comparison in the world; with the aid of another good race besides, which cannot die, who have all vowed, as charitie hath inflamed them, either to win this realme again to the Catholicke faith, and that without any bloodshed, except their owne, at God's permission, or else to die all uppon the pikes of your sharpest laws, and win Heaven as they hope to themselves. The wisdome of God inspire your hearts, and preserve you everlastingly. The 10th of September, 1580.
"Your humble prisoner, prepared as I hope for weale and woe. "T.P."
"Two things there are, if it may please your honors, which have the more emboldened us to put up this petition to your honors, partlie because the parties which came to confer with us at the Marshalsea, did seem to like well of this waie, seeinge it was our suite which we stoode upon, promising also to move it to the Bishop of London, for him to prefer it higher, and partlie for that the saide Bishop of London did answer Mr. Tripp, now at his telling him of it, that he himselfe had made the like suite to Her Majestie for manie years agone, and will doe it now again the rather if it be our desire; which answer doth bring us in credit to showe how farr the learned of our side are well knowne to be from disagreeing to such a trialL"
"Oure letter to the Superintendent 2 of London.
"Most heartily wishinge your lordship all honor, with grace and peace indeede unfained. Understandinge, as we doe, that your side will not refuse a conference, as we have all made our humble petition, with one common crie to have admitted, we humbly beseech you not to suppress this our petition, when it shall come to your hands, but to prefer it up to the councill, to whom it is made, and that with further petition if you will vouchsafe it may not staye there neither, but that it may come to Her Majestie's sight, which truly will be most for the honor of your cause, at least soe far forthe for this affair yourselfe, that if you or any other should stande uppon any points of policy to the contrarie, more than we stand upon our own lives in trial of God's truth, yet there are thousands, as it may be presumed, even of your side which rather put it up to Her Majestie with as common a crie to have it granted, rather, I say, than this triall, soe much importing them, should not be seene. A matter now, therefore, of some weight it is, whereof the credit either of your, or of oure side, doth lie in bleedinge, as it were. And if your confidence in your cause for the truth to be on your side, be anything at all, it behoveth that your having gone soe farr to labour as much as we, by like petition that the matter may come to open trial, and the learned of both sides to have open audiences; which God of His mercie grant, to Whom we commend you, wishinge you noe worse than to ourselves.
"Dated uppon the day of the Exaltation of the Holie Crosse of Christe the xiv. day of September, 1580.
"T. P., in Domino."
1 Taken from the original copy in the Record Office, 1580, Dom, Eliz. t State Papers, Vol. cxlii., No. 20. Sent by the Sheriff of Wilts.
2 So Thomas always calls the Protestant bishops.