« AnteriorContinua »
and his happy associates, rejoiced in God, using divers holy speeches of scripture to their own comfort, and the great edification of others, and so were sent back to their prisons again, where, being laid up in irons for the rest of their time, they expected God's mercy, and the queen's pleasure.'
6. The following day, the other priests, who, as we have seen above, were arraigned for the same fictitious plot, received the same unjust sentence, Mr. Colleton only excepted, who was acquitted by the testimony of Mr. Lancaster, witnessing, that he was with him in Gray's Inn, the very day that he was charged with plotting at Rhemes ; where, indeed Mr. Colleton, who was sent missioner from Douay, had never been in his life. He was afterwards transported into banishment, and lived to be the first dean of the English chapter, erected by the bishop of Chalcedon.
As to the innocence of all the rest of these gentlemen, with regard to the treasons laid to their charge, and the barefaced injustice used in the condemning of them, my author, in his preface to his accounts of their deaths, has set it in so clear a light, that it seems to be out of all disputę, that the true cause of their execution was not any treason, but their religion. And we learn from Mr. Camden, in his Elizabeth, that for the greatest part of them, the queen herself did not believe them guilty. Plerosque tamen ex misellis his sacerdotibus exitij in patriam conflandi conscios fuisse non credidit. p. 327, edit. 1615."
The time that passed between judgment and execution, which was from the 20th of November till the Ist of December, father Campion spent in preparing for his end, by godly spiritual exercises ; shewing so much patience, and using such sweet speeches to his keeper and others that had to deal with him, that the same keeper, having afterwards, one Norton in his custody (who had been a violent persecutor of Mr. Campion and his companions) and comparing together the different behaviours of his prisoners, declared, that he had a saint in his keeping before, but now he had a devil.
In the mean time, the protestants did not desist to tempt Mr. Campion, with proffers of life and liberty, to go over to their side, or at least to make some steps towards them ; insomuch, that the lieutenant of the 'Tower told Mr. Campion's sister, who came to see her brother, three days before his death, that if he would but yield to change his religion, he would secure him a 1001. a year; but Mr. Campion had too well studied that great lesson: what will it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul ? to be moved by any such offers.
On the morning of the 1st of December, he was brought to Mr. Sherwine and Mr. Brian, who were to be his companions in death, who waited for him in the Coleharbor prison: and after mutual embraces, they were all three led out to the hurdles prepared for them ; father Campion saluting the people, at his coming out, with these words, God save you all, God bless you, and make you all good catholics. They were drawn from the Tower to Tyburn, says my author, there to be martyred for the catholic faith and religion. Father Campion was alone on one hurdle, and the other two together, on another, all mo
lested by ministers and others, calling upon them by the way for their subversion ; and by some also, as opportunity served, comforted ; and father Campion especially consulted by one in some cases of conscience and religion ; and the mire, where with he was all spattered, most courteously wiped off his face.
When they were come to the place of execution, where divers of her majesty's honourable counsel, with many other persons of honour, besides an infinite multitude of people, attended their coming, father Campion was first brought up into the cart; where, after some small pause, he began to speak upon that text of St. Paul, 1. Cor. iv. 9, we are made a spectacle to ihe world, Sc., but was interrupted by Sir Francis Knowles, and the sheriff's, urging him to confess his treason against her majesty, and to acknowledge himself guilty: to whom he answered, For ihe ireasons which have been laid to my charge, and I am come here to suffer for, I desire you all to bear witness with me, that thereof I am altogether innocent.
•Whereupon, answer was made to him by one of the counsel, that he might not seem to deny the objections against him, having been proved by suflicient evidence. Well, my lord, said he, I am a catholic man, and a priest ; in that faith have I lived, and in that faith do I intend to die : and if you esteem my religion treason, then am I guilty ; as for any other treason, I never committed, God is my judge: but you have now what you desire ; I beseech you to have patience, and suffer me to speak a word or two for discharge of my conscience. But not being suffered to go forward, he was forced to speak only to that point which they most urged, protesting, that he was innocent of all treason and conspiracy ; desiring credit to be given to his answers, as to the last answer made upon his death and soul: adding, that the jury might easily be deceived, &c., but that he forgave all, as he desired to be forgiven ; desiring all them to forgive him, whose names he had confessed upon the rack (for, upon the commissioners oaths, that no harm should come unto them, he uttered some persons with whom he had been.)
• Further, he declared the meaning of a letter sent by himself, in time of his imprisonment, to Mr. Pound, a prisoner then also in the Tower, in which he wrote, that he would not disclose the secrets of some houses where he had been entertained: aflirming upon his soul, that the secrets he meant in that letter were not, as it was misconstrued by the enemy, treason or conspiracy, or any matter else against her majesty or the state ; but saying of mass, hearing confessions, preaching, and such like duties and functions of priesthood. This he protested to be true, as he would answer before God.
• They pressed him to declare his opinion of Pius Quintus, his bull, concerning the excommunication of the queen. To which demand he gave no answer. Then they asked, whether he renounced the pope ? He answered, he was a catholic: whereupon, one inferred, saying, in your catholicism (I noted the term) all treason is contained. In fine, preparing himself to drink his last draught of Christ's cup, he was interrupted in his prayer by a minister, willing him to say some prayer with him ; unto whom, looking back with a mild countenance, he
meekly replied, you and I are not one in religion, wherefore I pray you content yourself, I bar none of your prayer, only I desire them of the household of faith to pray with me, and in my agony, to say one creed, (for a signification that he died for the confession of the catholic faith therein contained.)
• Some also called to him to pray in English ; to whom he answered, that he would pray in a language he well understood. At the upshot of this conflict he was willed to ask the queen forgiveness, and to pray for her; he meekly answered, wherein have 1 offended her? In this I am innocent: this is my last speech : in this give me credit: I have and do pray for her. Then the Lord Charles Howard asked of him, for which queen he prayed, whether for Elizabeth, the queen ? to whom he answered, yea, for Elizabeth, your queen and my queen. And the cart being drawn away, he meekly and sweetly yielded his soul unto his Saviour, protesting that he died a perfect catholic.
•Which his mild death, and former sincere protestations of his innocency, moved the people to such compassion and tears, that the adversaries, in their printed books " of his death under Munday's name,” 6 were glad to excuse the matter.'
He suffered at Tyburn, December 1, 1581, Ætatis Anno 42.
The gentlemen that were brought up to London at the same time with father Campion, and cast into prison, were Edward Yates, John Cotton, Edward Kaines, William Hildesley, Humphrey Kaines, Philip Low, and John James.
RALPH SHERWINE, PRIEST. *
He was born in Derbyshire, at a place called Radesley, near Langford, and brought up in Exeter college, in Oxford, where he was admitted fellow, in 1568. In 1574, says, Mr. Wood, “ Athen Oron” proceeding in arts, he was made senior of the act, celebrated July 26, the same year, being then accounted an acute philosopher, and an excellent Græcian and Hebrician.' " He left the university in 1575, and with it the protestant religion, which it seems did not sit easy upon his conscience, and” went over to Douay, to the seminary that was then there, says my author, and after some years study in divinity, was made priest by the bishop of Cambray, on the 23d of March, 1577, together with Mr. Laurence Johnson, that was martyred under the name of Richardson, “and eight others.” And the 2d of August, of the same year, he was sent to Rome, in company with Mr. Rishton, who was afterwards condemned with him, where he studied in the seminary till the year 1580 ; at which time he returned homeward by the way of Rhemes,' or where he made some short stay, upon a design of accompanying, in quality of Chaplain, Dr. Goldwell, bishop of St. Asaph, who then purposed to come over to England to administer confirmation to the catholics ; but the bishop falling sick at Rhemes, and proceeding no further in his journey,” Mr. Sherwine went for
* From the same author, an eye-witness of his death.
ward towards England ; where, after his arrival, he occupied himself in all functions belonging to priesthood, with great zeal and charity; and soon after was taken in Mr. Roscarrocke's chamber, in London, and committed to the Marshalsea, where he lay night and day in a great pair of shackles, for the space of a month.
• In November, after his imprisonment, there came word from the knight marshal, to the keeper of the Marshalsea, to understand of him, whether there were any papists in his prison that durst or would maintain their cause by disputation ; and if there were any such, that then they should send him such questions, as they would defend, subscribed with their hands, and make themselves ready to dispute ; for they should understand from him shortly of the manner, time, and place, how and where to dispute. This motion was so well liked of the catholics, that Mr. Sherwine and two other priests, that were afterwards condemned with him, viz. Mr. John Hart, and Mr. Bosgrave, offered themselves to the combat, drew up questions, subscribed their names, and sent them to the said knight marshal; but the questions pleasing him not, they accepted of other questions sent unto them from him, and expected with joyful minds the day appointed to dispute. But, lo! the very day before they should have disputed, Mr. Sherwine was removed to the Tower, where he was at sundry and several times examined and racked.
• In his first racking, he was asked where father Campion and father Parsons were? why he and they came over into England ? what acquaintance he had here in England ? whether he had said mass in Mr. Roscarroke's chamber ? and whether he had of him at any time money 7? He was a close prisoner almost a whole year, in which time he had divers conferences with ministers, sometimes in private, at other times in an open audience of honourable and worshipful persons, to the ho. nour of God, the benefit of his afflicted church, and to the admiration of most of his hearers.
• He was, after his first racking, set out in a great snow, and laid upon the rack; and the gentleman in whose chamber he was taken, was kept hard by, in a dark corner, to hear his pitiful groans.
66 Of his second racking, the Reverend Mr. Broughton, in a manuscript relation sent over to Douay in 1626, writes, that his brother, Mr. John Sherwine, still living, being asked by a priest concerning his brother, told him, that he, coming to his brother in the Tower of London, his said brother told him, that he had been twice racked, and the latter time he lay five days and nights without any food, or speaking to any body. All which time, he lay, as he thought, in a sleep before our Saviour on the cross. After which time, he came to himself: not finding any distemper in his joints by the extremity of the torture, it was offered him by the bishops of Canterbury and London, that if he would but go to Paul's church, he should have the second bishopric of England.”
• On Midsummer day, in the year 1581, he was called before the lieutenant of the Tower (as likewise all his fellow prisoners were) who demanded of him, by commission from the council, whether he would go to their Common prayer service ? who refusing, the lieutenant told
him the danger of a late statute made in that behalf; and farther, that he should be indicted upon that statute within two or three days. So that at that time, it seems, they had no such matter to lay against him, as was afterwards pretended; for it was not as then thoroughly hatched.
• The order of his life,'" during his imprisonment,” •in his spare diet, his continual prayer and meditation, his long watching, with frequent and sharp discipline used upon his body, caused great admiration to his keeper ; who would always call him, a Man of God, and the best and devoutest priest that ever he saw in his life.'
He was brought to the bar as we have seen, with father Campion, and condemned for the same pretended conspiracy; of which, both living and dying, he ever protested himself to be wholly innocent. 'After his condemnation, he wrote to his friends in the following terms, Your liberality I have received, and disposed thereof to my great contentation; when hereafter, at the pleasure of God, we shall meet in heaven, I trust you shall be repaid, cum fænore. Delay of our death doth somewhat dull me; it was not without cause that our master himself said, Quod facis fac cito.
• Truth it is, I hoped ere this, casting off this body of death, to have kissed the precious glorified wounds of my sweet Saviour, sitting in the throne of his Father's own glory. Which desire, as I trust, descending from above, hath so quieted my mind, that, since the judicial sentence proceeded against us, neither the sharpness of the death hath much terrified me, nor the shortness of life much troubled me.
My sins are great, I confess, but I flee to God's mercy: my negligences are without number, I grant: but I appeal to my Redeemer's clemency: I have no boldness but in his blood ; his bitter passion is my only consolation. It is comfortable that the prophet hath recordled, that he hath written us in his hands. Oh! that he would vouchsafe to write himself in our hearts, how joyful should we then appear before the tribunal seat of his Father's glory; the dignity whereof, when I think of, my flesh quaketh, not sustaining, by reason of mortal infirmity, the presence of my Christ's majesty.
Our Lord perfect us to that end whereunto we were created, that, leaving this world we may live in him, and of him, world without end. It is thought that upon Monday or Tuesday next, we shall be passable ; God grant us humility, that we, following his footsteps, may obtain the victory.' So far the letter, which speaks the spirit of the man.
"When he came out of the lieutenant's hall, with others of his companions, two days, or thereabouts, before he was martyred (having talked with a minister, who was never so held up to the wall in his life, by report of such as stood by,) he uttered these words : ah, father Campion, I shall be shortly above yonder fellow, pointing to the sun, with such a courage that some said he was the resolutest man that ever they saw.
• He will never be forgotten in the Tower, for some words which he spoke when he was ready to go to execution. Charke, the minister, can best report them, who stood hard by. Some of Charke's fellow minis: ters said, those words could not come from a guilty conscience.'