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 VI.
"A certain English gentleman-pirate, lately returned with a booty of more than two millions, taken in the West Indies. The Spanish Ambassador reclaimed the spoil in the King's name, but the Queen gave the shuffling answer that the King of Spain had given harbour to the Pope's ships on their passage to Ireland. She asked, moreover, why the Pope, without being harmed, attacked her kingdom in this way. He answered that he rather wondered that the Pope did not attempt to do more against her who had treated him so abominably, not only in refusing him all his ecclesiastical rights, which from the most ancient times were allowed to the Holy See by the Kings of England, but also by libels, sermons, lewd pictures, and many other ways, by which his authority was defamed and brought into contempt. He said more to the same effect, and the Queen was silent then; but afterwards said to a nobleman that the Pope had written to her that he was prepared to approve the whole Protestant service, if she would restore him his title of Supreme Head of the Church. But in these parts there is often talk of these kinds of pretended letters.
"I keep myself safe here in London by frequent change of place. I never remain more than two days in one spot, because of the strict searches made for me. I am quite overwhelmed with business, to which I am obliged to devote the whole day, from early morning till midnight, after I have said Mass and Office, and preached, sometimes twice in the day. Therefore I hope for reinforcements, both from our Society and from the Pope's College.
"All Catholics here, lift up their hands and thank God and His Holiness for founding such a College at Rome, beyond all their hopes; and they beseech His Holiness, by the bowels of the mercy of our Saviour, to defend the College and to enlarge it for the needs of the present time. 1
"Two days ago a Priest called Clifton was led in chains through the streets, and he walked with so •cheerful a countenance that the people wondered. When he saw this he began to laugh heartily, at which the folks were still more struck, and asked him why he was the only one to laugh at his own sad case, for which everybody else pitied him. He answered, it was because he was the gainer in the business. In the beginning of this persecution there were some people in a certain county who were frightened, and promised to go to the Protestant -church, but their wives stood out against them, and threatened to leave them if they, for human respect, left off their obedience to God and the Church. Many like things have taken place amongst boys, who for this cause have separated- themselves from their parents."
In October, 1580, Father Campion and Father Parsons returned towards London, to meet and confer once more, and to compare the results of their labours.
Father Parsons and his faithful friend, George Gilbert, reached London in the same month some days before Father Campion, for whom he tried to find a convenient lodging, but the persecution was become so hot and the search after him so close that it was thought unsafe for Father Campion to come to town. He therefore stayed at William Griffith's house, near Uxbridge, and here the meeting was held. Father Parsons' tour had been through the counties of Gloucester, Worcester, Hereford, and Derby. Father Campion had taken Berks, Oxford, and Northampton. In settling the plans for their next expedition it was resolved that Father Parsons should for the present remain in or near London, because he was not as yet so diligently sought for as Father Campion, whose protest or "brag" had kindled such a flame throughout the land, and was now in everybody's hands, furnishing almost the only topic at ordinary tables and public meetings. He had been asked for by the Norfolk and Lancashire Catholics, whom he had not reached on his first tour. Lancashire was fixed upon as the remotest from London and containing the greatest number of Catholics.
Whilst this conference was being held in Uxbridge, in October, 1580, a new proclamation, the third since the entrance of the Jesuits into England, was issued by the Council for their discovery and apprehension. This caused so great a difficulty in Father Campion's passage through the various counties towards the north, in consequence of the constables, pursuivants, searchers, and other catch-poles, that he was forced to stay more upon the way than he had purposed, and he took occasion of one of these enforced times of leisure to write to the Very Reverend Father General an account of his first tour. 2
Following out the object of this volume, and especially seeing the close connection between the real subject of the history and Father Campion, who was furnished by him with the sinews for this desperate warfare, equally with Father Parsons, it is impossible to omit the present opportunity of introducing this very beautiful letter of that sweet and most glorious martyr. In fact it would rather seem that Mr. Gilbert accompanied Father Campion part of the way at least on his journey towards the north, after the meeting at Uxbridge. Finding himself more than ever beset, he was obliged, as we have just noticed, to tarry a long while on the way. " In fact," says Mr. Simpson, "I lost sight of him till about Christmastide, when Gervase Pierrepoint [one of Gilbert's Association, and who had accompanied Father Campion on his first tour] took him to the house of his brother, Henry Pierrepoint of Holme Pierrepoint and Thoresby, Notts, the ancestor of the Earls of Kingston; there he remained till the Tuesday after Twelfth Day, when he and his guide went to Mr. Langford, where they spent the Thursday and Friday; thence to Lady Fuljambes of Walton, Derbyshire, and thence to Mr. Powdrells of West Hallam, Derby, a famous resort, even a century later, of Priests, where they were joined by George Gilbert." 3 How long he remained does not appear, but Pierrepoint soon after returned, and then Mr. Tempest led Father Campion into Yorkshire. Mr. Gilbert's appearance at Mr. Powdrells' may only have been as a visit to Father Campion on some important matters relative to the undertaking. We may add here, that amongst the immense labours of Father Campion on his protracted and perilous journey to Lancashire, he stayed about twelve days at the house of Mr. William Harrington, of Mount St. John, brother-in-law of his guide, Mr. Tempest, during which time he was occupied in writing his famous book, De Hceresi Desperata, which afterwards appeared as his Decern Rationes. One of his host's six sons, William, was so struck by the conduct of the blessed martyr, that three years afterwards he fled over seas to Rheims, from whence in due time he returned to England a Priest, and himself suffered martyrdom at Tyburn also, February 18, 1594, for the Catholic religion.
1 This was the English College, Rome, under the care of the Society of Jesus until 1773.
2 Simpson's Campion, pp. 181, 182. Mr. Simpson also gives a copy of Father Campion's letter, from which the one presently given is taken.
3 Simpson's Campion, p. 187.