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 III.
The Association consisted of many youths of noble parts, whom the example and exhortations of George Gilbert had inflamed to join in his efforts. They were men of birth and property, without the incumbrance of wives or offices; and thus free to devote themselves to the cause, they entered on their dangerous and difficult path with extraordinary joy and alacrity—every man offering himself, his person, his ability, his friends, and whatsoever God had lent them besides. Mr. Gilbert was the first—he was, in fact, the founder and the soul of the Association; other members were, Henry Vaux (Father Campion's old pupil), and Vaux's brother-in-law, Brooks, Charles Arundell, Charles Basset (great-grandson of Sir Thomas More), Edward and Francis Throgmorton, William Brookesby, William and Richard Griffin, Arthur Cresswell, Edward Fitton, Stephen Brinkley, Jervase and Henry Pierrepoint, Nicholas Roscarock, Anthony Babbington, Chideock Tichbourne, Charles Tilney, Edward Abingdon, Thomas Salisbury, Jerome Bellamy, William Tresham, Thomas Fitzherbert, John Stoner, James Hall, Richard Stanihurst (another of Father Campion's pupils), Godfrey Fuljambe (who afterwards did very little credit to the Association), and many others whom Father Parsons will not name for fear of compromising them. Amongst them must have been at one time Lord Oxford, Lord Henry Howard, Mr. Southwell, Lord Paget, and Mr. Pounde. Divers of these, with Mr. Gilbert, took lodgings together, and sojourned in the chief pursuivant's house in Fetter or Chancery Lane. This pursuivant had great weight with Aylmer, Bishop of London; they had also another powerful protector at Fulham, where was the focus of their peril, in the person of the bishop's son-in-law, Dr. Adam Squire, who was in their pay. Through the connivance of these men they were able to receive Priests, and to have Mass celebrated daily in their house, till the arrival of the Jesuits, when the times grew much more exasperated.
The necessity of this Catholic Association has been detailed in the Life of Thomas Pounde, and therefore need not be here repeated.
Father Parsons, under the disguise of a discharged soldier from the Low Countries, safely passed the eagle-eyed searchers at the port of Dover, and prepared the way for Father Campion's following as a 4t merchant of jewels"—most appropriate disguises, their mission being truly a warfare, and their business a merchandise of the " pearl of great price." Father Parsons reached Gravesend at midnight, and got to London and found our Mr. Pounde in the Marshalsea Prison. Great was the astonishment and joy of that noble champion of Christ when Father Parsons stood before him; but that joy could only be of a short duration, for the Father must be away again as quickly as possible ere he was recognized by others. Mr. Pounde, therefore, sent with all haste to acquaint Mr. Gilbert, than whom none of all the many Catholics in London could be more trustworthy or more acceptable to Father Parsons. The Father dined with the numerous Catholic prisoners, and afterwards committed himself to the guidance of one of the guests, " Mr. Edward Brookesby, who led him to a Catholic house in the City, a kind of club, where he found other gentlemen and Priests, and notably Mr. Gilbert." 1
It was truly by an act of Divine Providence, in Mr. Gilbert's regard, that Father Parsons arrived that identical day in London, and that it occurred to Mr. Pounde, his friend, to recommend the Father to his hospitality, for on the same day there was a meeting about the settlements to be made on his intended marriage with a young heiress, to whom his friends had advised him to make advances. This lady was in every respect his equal in rank and fortune.
The very sight of Father Parsons so entirely changed him, inspiring him with so great a repugnance of this intended marriage, and of all other earthly things, that breaking off all further treaty about the match, he determined instead to enter upon a far different kind of love, and, with Father Parsons' approbation, to consecrate himself to God by a vow of perpetual chastity. This the Father would not at first allow him to do, though at last he gave permission for the vow "till the Catholic religion should be publicly professed in England."
1 This was no doubt the house in Fetter or Chancery Lane, lately mentioned, and the club was the Catholic Association.