Imatges de pàgina





HENRY GARNET, PRIEST, S. J.* Henry Garnet was born in the year 1554, as some say, in Derby. shire, or as others will have it, at Nottingham, where his father Mr. Brian Garnet was a school aster. He had his first education in the college of William of Wickham, in Winchester, where he was looked upon as the most hopeful youth in the house ; and was to have been sent from thence to New College, Oxon ; but disliking the protestant religion, he chose rather to be reconciled to the catholic church, and travelled abroad, first into Spain, and from thence to Rome : he there entered into the society of Jesus, anno 1571. After he had finished his noviceship, he applied himself close to his studies, and having the advantage of the best masters, both in divine and human sciences, such as Bellarmine, Suarez, Pererius, Clavius, &c., he became a great proficient in all kind of learning, yet so as not to neglect the better part, by a serious attention to the science of the saints, the study of christian and religious perfection. He was for some time, professor of the Hebrew language, in the Roman college of the society, and then publicly taught metaphy, sics; he also supplied for a while the place of the celebrated Clavius, in the school of mathematics : till the year 1586, having long aspired after the English mission, he was sent with father Robert Southwel 10 labour in this vineyard.

Two years after his arrival in England, father William Weston, the superior of the English jesuits, falling into the hands of the persecutors, and being committed to prison, father Garnet was pitched upon as the most proper to succeed in that superiority. And from that time will the breaking out of the gunpowder plot, so behaved himself in that post, as to be very much esteemed and loved by all those whom he had to deal with.

In the year 1603, queen Elizabeth being called out of this world, king James the first succeeded in the kingdom. This prince had given great hopes, and even promises to the catholics before his coming to the erown, that he would put a stop to their sufferings, and grant them some toleration at least of their religion : but they quickly found

* From father More's history of the English province, 1. iv. n. 15. and 1. vii. n. 20, &c. Father Bartoli's Inghilterra, 1. iv. c. 12. 1. vi. c. 5, &c. Father Joseph Jouvancy historia societatis, part V. 1. xür., and a manuscript relation of his death by an eye-witness.

he was not disposed to make good these promises ; and that instead of repealing or qualifying any of the penal statutes of queen Elizabeth, he gave way to new laws and additional severities, enacted against all professors of the ancient religion. The generality of the catholics of the nation, though much disappointed in their hopes, submitted their shoulders to this new cross after so many others they had endured, and disposed themselves to bear it with christian patience. But some few there were, (and indeed very few, for I can find but thirteen or fourteen in all, including such as were any ways conscious) men unworthy of the name of catholics, who being exasperated by their disappointment, were by degrees entangled by the artifices of satan, and a Machiavellian politician, his instrument, (designing thereby the ruin of the catholic religion in England) in a most detestable conspiracy to blow up the parliament house; which design was to have been executed at the first meeting of the parliament, on the 5th of November, 1605; but was discovered by a letter sent ten days before to lord Mounteagle, a catholic peer, and by him communicated to the king and council.

As to the religion of the conspirators, if they had any, they are generally supposed to have been catholics: though the author of the Protestants' Plea, published in 1621, p. 56, says they were a few wicked and desperately minded men, whom many protestants termed papists ; although the true priests and catholics of England knew them not to be such ; nor can any protestant, says he, truly say that any one of them was such a one, as their laws and proceedings against us name papists, popish recusants, or the like:' and p. 58, he adds, all these were young, except Piercy —, and

and if any of them were catholics, or so died, they were known protestants not long before, and never frequenters of catholic sacraments with any priest, as I could learn.' So far this author.

Catesby, the chief of the conspirators, whether of his own accord or at the instigation of a certain minister of state (supposed to have had a great hand in the whole contrivance of this ploi, and to have been particularly solicitous to draw the jesuits into some share in the odium of it) laid open the design in confession to father Greenway, or Greenwell

, alias Tesmond, a jesuit. The confessor represented to him the wickedness of the project, but could not prevail upon him to desist: however, Catesby consented that father Greenway should communicate the case under the seal of confession to father Garnet; and if the matter should otherwise come to light, he gave leave that both the one and the other might then make use of the knowledge which he thus imparted to them, and not else. Father Garnet was struck with horror at the proposal, and as he could not discover it, laboured at least to divert the design; and he so far prevailed, that Catesby promised he would attempt nothing without the knowledge and consent of the holy see, which father Garnet knew he would never obtain : but the wretch still went on in his design, till the plot was discovered; and then taking arms with Piercy and the two Wrights, attended with some servants and a few others, being pursued by the high sheriff of Warwickshire, he took shelter in the house of Mr. Humphrey Littleton near Stourbridge, and being there attacked by the sheriff of Worcestershire, he was there slain with the other three in the conflict; the rest of the conspirators were

taken, and were all executed, excepting Mr. Tresham, who died in the tower.

Amongst those who were engaged in this plot was one Bates a servant of Catesby : this man in hopes of saving his own life, insinuated (probably at the instigation of a certain great man) that the jesuits, and in particular father Greenway and father Garnet, had some knowledge of the conspiracy; of which unjust insinuation he afterwards repented himself. Upon this a proclamation was issued out, (two months after the discovery of the plot) for the apprehending of those two fathers, together with father Gerard, of whom also they had conceived some suspicion. Greenway and Gerard fled beyond the seas : father Garnet who was then with father Oldcorne at Henlip, the seat of Mr. Abington in Worcestershire, was soon after betrayed by Mr. Liuleton, who being then a prisoner for having harboured some of the conspirators, in hopes of saving his own life, discovered where the father was hid. Upon which, after many days search, both father Garnet and father Oldcorne were apprehended, with their servants, John Owen and Ralph Ashley, and were carried to Worcester, and from thence by an order of the council sent for up to London, and there committed first to the Gatehouse and then to the tower.

Father Garnet was examined no less than twenty-three different times, so intent some people were to bring him in, if possible, guilty of some share in the plot : yet with all these examinations no sufficieot matter could be discovered to condemn him, nor any witnesses could be found to appear against him. At length Cecil earl of Salisbury, who knew more of the whole affair perhaps than any man living, contrived to lodge father Oldcorne in a chamber adjoining to father Garnet, where they might through a chink converse together, and be overheard by two men, whom he had placed in ambuscade for that purpose. This stratagem succeeded according to bis wish. Father Garnet was privately informed by his keeper (under prelence of kindness) that father Oldcorne might be spoke with, through that chink; and he gladly embraced that opportunity of making his consession, and conversing with his friend, lille suspecting the snare that was laid for him ; upon this occasion, being asked by father Oldcorne whether he was still examined about the plot ? He answered, they have no proof that I ever had any knowledge at all of the matter; and there is but one man upon earth (meaning father Greenway) who can prove that I had. These words were heard by the two spies, and were immediately carried to the council. Upon this father Garnet was again examined and put upon the rack; where, when the whole story was related to him, and what he had been heard to say, he acknowledged he had been told of the plot by F. Greenway, but it was under the inviolable seal of confession; and that he had both recommended to father Greenway, and had used himself his best endeavours lo divert the design. Upon this his confession, as they called it, Sir Edward Coke the attorney-general, was ordered to draw up an indictment of high treason against him; and he was brought to his trial at Guildhall, March the 28th, before the king's delegates; his majesty himself and many of the nobility being present. His enemies to disgrace him, had published many falsehoods of him; and amongst the

rest, that having been kept watching for six whole days and nights (a new kind of torment !) he had lost his senses : but this and other calumnies were dissipated by his public appearance and comportment at his trial. The attorney-general held forth for several hours in his accusation, bringing in all the odious topics he could against the jesuits in general, to prejudice the jury against the prisoner, and laying to their charge all the plots and conspiracies of queen Elizabeth's reign, but in particular charging home upon father Garnet the guilt of the late conspiracy. The father made a regular and excellent defence, both of his own innocence and of his society, with that presence of mind, and that graceful modesty, that many of the auditors who came thither violently prepossessed against him, were now convinced of his innocence, his very countenance, which was particularly venerable, pleading strongly in his behalf: however, the protestant jury, either not believing his plea that he had no knowledge of the plot, but by confession, or rather not regarding that inviolable secrecy which the catholic church enjoins to consessors, brought in their verdict guilty ; and he received senience of death in the usual form as in cases of high treason.

He remained prisoner in the Tower after sentence for about five weeks, and then was ordered for execution on the 3d of May, 1606. He was drawn on a sledge from the Tower to St. Paul's church-yard, where a scaffold and gibbet were erected for the purpose, and an innumerable multitude of people was assembled. As he was drawn through the streets, his hands and eyes were lifted up towards heaven, where his heart was fixed. After he was taken off ihe sledge, and had recovered himself of the dizziness caused by the jogging of that incommodious vehicle, he ascended the scaffold, and saluted the crowd with a smiling countenance. It was observed that the mob, which had uttered many reviling speeches against him, calling him by a thousand opprobrious names before he came to the place, was now struck dumb at his venerable aspect, which both spoke his innocence, and commanded reverence. Some of the ministers that were there, offered to persuade him to conform in matters of religion, (as, amongst other calumnies, it had been given out that he would) but he declared he would die in the catholic faith, out of which there was no salvation.

It being the day of the invention, or finding of the cross, father Gar. net took ocrasion, from thence, to speak to the people concerning this cross which he was to take up that day ; declaring withal his innocence as to the conspiracy, and his having no knowledge of it but by confession; that as io his part, he had always detested such treasonable pracrices, and that he knew them to be contrary to the sentiments of the bishop of Rome; and he begged of all catholics never to think of any such attempts, which were entirely inconsistent with their religion, to fly the conversation of uneasy and turbulent spirits, and to possess their souls in patience. Here, Sir Henry Montague, the recorder of London, told him he was certainly privy to the design, out of confession. •Mr. Catesby,' said he, told you of it in private, we have it under your hand.' • Whatever is under my hand, said father Garnet, I will not deny ; but, indeed, you have not this under my hand. Mr. Catesby only acquainted me in general terms that something might be done, or was adoing for the benefit of the catholic cause, without specifying

what it was; and this is all I had from him, as I hope for salvation. Then, said the recorder, do you ask the king's pardon for concealing the treason? I do, said father Garnet, thus far, and no more, in that I did not reveal the suspicions I had of Mr. Catesby's behaviour; though at the same time, I dissuaded him from all treasonable attempts. And I do solemnly assure you, had that wicked stratagem succeeded, I should always have detested both the fact, and the persons engaged in it.'

After this, he was brought to the foot of the ladder, where the recorder attacked him again upon the score of Mr. Catesby, pretending that they had it under his hand, that he had discoursed with him in particular concerning the gunpowder design ; which father Garnet denying, a gentleman there pretended to call for the paper, but it could not be found; at which the father smiling said, I believe it never will be found. 'Then being stripped to his shirt, he kneeled down and prayed a while in silence at the foot of the ladder; then going up some steps, he prayed aloud for the king, the queen, the prince, and all the council, and begged the blessing of God for all the spectators, that God might make them all Roman catholics, as the only way to secure their eternal welfare; declaring that, for his own part, he died a catholic, and desired all such to pray for him, and with him. Ther, making the sign of the cross, he said, Adoramus te Christe, fc. We adore thee, O Christ, and we bless thee, because by thy cross, thou hast redeemed the world. This sign of the cross shall be seen in heaven, when the Lord shall come to judgment. Allelujah. Then saluting the blessed virgin with a short hymn, crossing his hands before his breast and recommending his departing soul into the hands of his Creator, he was flung off the ladder. The executioner, three several times, attempted to cut the rope before he was dead, that he might be butchered alive according to sentence. But the people as often cried out, Hold, hold, hold : so much were they moved by his behaviour, to judge more favourably of him than they had done, and to compassionate his case. And when his head was shown by the executioner, instead of huzzas, usual on the like occasions, the people went off in silence.

Father Garnet suffered in the 51st year of his age, and the 30th after his entering into the society. His head was fixed on London bridge, and it was much remarked, that his countenance, which was always venerable, retained, for above twenty days, the same lively colour which it had during life, which drew all London to the spectacle, and was interpreted as a testimony of his innocence ; as was also an image of him wonderfully formed on the ear of a straw, on which a drop of his blood had fallen. His servant Owen, a lay-brother of the society (commonly called Little John) was so cruelly racked in prison, that he died soon after he was taken off the torture.

EDWARD OLDCORNE, PRIEST, S. J.* EDWARD OLDCORNE, known upon the mission by the name of Hall, was born in Yorkshire; he performed his studies abroad, parily in the

* From father More's history, 1. vii. num. 36, &c., father Bartoli, l. vi.c.s, &c.

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