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Another Letter of father Walpole to the same, after his examination by Toplife.
• Your reverence's letters give me great comfort, but if I could but see you, though it were but for one hour, it would be of greater service to me, than I can possibly express. I hope that what is wanting, my sweet Lord Jesus will supply by other means, whose heavenly comfort and assistance has always hitherto stood by me in my greatest necessities, and, I am persuaded, will continue so to do, since his love for us is everlasting.
• If I would write down all things that have here passed with our adversaries, it would be endless, and the work of a long time. In my examination I gave in, in writing, a long account of my life beyond the seas, of the places where I lived, and of my actions and designs; which, I assured them had no other butt than the only glory of God, and the increase of the holy catholic faith. With which view I told them I returned into England, with a great desire of the conversion, not only of the people, but most of all, of the queen herself, and of the whole English nobility ; which I plainly assured them I should ever use my best endeavours to bring about, with the grace of God.
• To their queries concerning others, I refused to answer. And when Topliffe threatened that he would make me answer when he had me in Bridewell, or in the Tower, I told him, that our Lord God, I hoped would not permit me, for fear of any torments whatsoever, to do any thing against his divine Majesty, or against my own conscience, or to the prejudice of justice, and the innocence of others.
• I have had various conferences and disputations with many of the heretics. And whereas I believed I should have been tried at the last assizes in this city,“ York,” I sent in writing to the lord president, all those conferences and disputations, who had ordered me pen, ink, and paper for that purpose. To which I joined a large discourse, or treatise; in which I exhorted all to beware of the false prophets, and to give ear to the voice of the holy church, the spouse of the king, the house, the vineyard, and the city of Christ. One of the ministers complained of me much to the president, for being so bold as to put down such things in writing ; but he could not refute what was written, and, indeed, they seem to me to be much confounded. Blessed be Jesus, qui dat os insipienti, cui non possunt resistere sapientes. I want very much to have a book or two for a few hours, and if I cannot have them, Jesus, our God and Lord is at hand, and he is the eternal wisdom. Your reverence will be pleased to pray to him that he may always stand by me, and that all things may turn out to his glory.
• I am much astonished that so vile a creature as I am should be so near, as they tell me, to the crown of martyrdom : but this I know for certain, that the blood of my most blessed Saviour and Redeemer, and his most sweet love, is able to make me worthy of it, omnia possum in eo qui me comfortat. Your reverence, most loving father, is engaged in the midst of the battle. I sit here an idle spectator of the field ; yet king David has appointed an equal portion for us both, and love, charity and union, which unites us together in Jesus Christ our Lord, makes us mutually partakers of one another’s merits; and what can be more
closely united than we two, who, as your reverence sees, gati sumus in hoc ministerium.
• The president inquired of me who was the superior of our society in this kingdom ? whether it was this, or the other, or who it was? Topliffe answered, he knew who it was, and named him. I beg your reverence would communicate this letter to all our friends ; I desire to give myself to every one of them, and more particularly to all our most dear fathers and brothers of the society of Christ, my Jesus, in whose prayers, labours and sacrifices, as I have a share, so have I a great confidence. About Midlent I hope my lot will be decided, either for life or death, for then the assizes will be held here again. In the mean while, I have leisure to prepare myself, and expect, with good courage, whatever his divine Majesty shall be pleased to appoint for me. I beg your reverence to join your holy prayers with my poor ones, that I may walk worthy of that high and holy name and profession to which I am called, which I trust in the mercy of our Lord he will grant me, not regarding so much my many imperfections, as the fervent labours, prayers, and holy sacrifices of so many fathers, and my brothers, his servants, who are employed over all the world in his service; and I hope, through the merits of my most sweet Saviour and Lord, that I shall be always ready, whether living or dying, to glorify him, which will be for my eternal happiness. And if my unworthiness and demerits shall keep me at present at a distance from the crown, I will strive to deserve it by a greater solicitude and diligence for the future. And, if in his mercy, our Lord shall grant me now to wash my garments in the blood of the Lamb, I hope to follow him for ever, clothed in white.
•I can never end when I get any time to write to your reverence, which I have been seldom able to do ; and whether, as long as I live, I shall ever have another opportunity, I know not. I confessed in my examinations, that I had laboured for the increase of the two seminaries in Spain, and for that of St. Omers ; and, that I had returned hearty thanks to his catholic majesty, for his great favours to the seminary of St. Omers : 1 also confessed, that all my actions had always in view the good of others, and no one's harm; the procuring peace among all, and the propagating our holy catholic faith, and the kingdom of Christ, to the utmost of my power. This was the sum of my general confession, which I gave in writing, signed by my own hand, to the president and to Topliffe. They asked me, what I would do, if the pope should wage war against England ? I answered, that the circumstances of that time would give me more light; and that I should then have recourse to our Lord God for counsel, and would think seriously on it before I would any ways intermeddle with things of War. Hæc & hujusmodi, de quibus postea. May Jesus be always with your reverence. Ore
An extract of a letter of father Henry Garnet's, superior of the English jesuits, concerning father Walpole's treatment in the Tower, and his return to York; written October 23, 1595, translated from the bishop of Tarrasona's history, p. 695, 696. • Blessed father Walpole met in the Tower of London with the greatest misery and poverty, so that the lieutenant himself, though otherwise a hard-hearted and barbarous man, was moved to enquire after some of the father's relations, and told them, that he was in great and extraordinary want, without bed, without clothes, without any thing to cover him, and that at a season, when the cold was most sharp and piercing ; so that himself, though an enemy, out of pure compassion, had given him a little straw to sleep on. Besides this, the father himself, in public court, upon occasion of answering some question that was put to him, declared, That he had been tortured fourteen times : and it is very well known, how cruel any one of those tortures is, which are now in use. For it is a common thing to hang them up in the air, six or seven hours by the hands ; and, by the means of certain irons, which hold their hands fast, and cut them, they shed much blood in the torture. The force of this torment, may be gathered from what happened last Lent, to a laic, called James Atkinson, whom, they most cruelly tortured in this manner, to oblige him to accuse his own master, and other catholies, and priests, and kept him so long in the torture, that he was, at length, taken away for dead, after many hours suffering ; and, in effect, died within two hours. Some time after, they carried the father back to York, to be there tried at the Midlent assizes. In all that journey, he never went into bed, or even laid down upon a bed, to rest himself, after the fatigue of the day ; but his sleep, was upon the bare ground. When he came to York, he was put into prison, where he waited many days for the judges coming. In the prison, he had nothing but one poor matt, three feet long: on which, he made his prayer upon his knees, for a great part of the night ; and when he slept, it was upon the ground, leaning upon the same matt. And besides this long prayer in the night, which lasted for the greater part of the night, he spent not a little time in making English verses, in which he had a particular talent and grace ; for, before he left the kingdom, he had made a poem upon the martyrdom of father Campian, which was so much taken notice of by the public, that the author not being known, the gentleman who published it, was condemned by the council to lose his ears, and to pass the remainder of his days in prison, in which, after some years, he made a pious end.' So far father Garnet.
Father Walpole's defence at his trial, from Yepez, p. 702. • I find, my lord, I am accused of two or three things.
1st. • That I am a priest, ordained by the authority of the see of Rome.
2dly. That I am a Jesuit, or one of the society of Jesus.
3dly. • That I returned to my native country to exercise the ordinary acts of these two callings ; which are no other, than to gain souls to God.
• I will show, that none of these three things can be treason. Not the being a priest, which is a dignity and office instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, and given by him to his apostles, who were priests : as were also the holy fathers and doctors of the church, who converted and instructed the world : and the first teachers, who brought over the English nation to the light of the gospel, were also priests ; so that, were it not for priests, we should all be heathens; consequently, to be a priest, can be no treason.
• Judge Beamont here spoke ; Indeed, said he, the merely being a priest, or jesuit, is no treason ; but what makes you a traitor, is your returning into the kingdom against the laws. If to be a priest, said father Walpole, is no treason, the executing the office, or doing the functions of a priest, can be no treason. But if a priest, said the judge, should conspire against the person of his prince, would not this be treason ? Yes, said father Walpole ; but then neither his being a priest, nor the following the duties of his calling, would make him a traitor ; but the committing of a crime contrary to the duty of a priest; which is far from being my case.
• You have been, said Beamont, with the king of Spain, and you have treated and conversed with Parsons and Holt, and other rebels and traitors to the kingdom ; and you have returned hither contrary to the laws; and, therefore, you cannot deny your being a traitor. Father Walpole replied, To speak or treat with any person whatsoever, out of the kingdom, can make me no traitor, as long as no proof can be brought that the subject about which we treated was treason ; neither can the returning to my native country, be looked upon as treason, since the cause of my return, was not to do any evil, either to the queen, or to the kingdom.
• Our laws appoint, said Beamont, that a priest who returns from beyond the seas, and does not present himself before a justice, within three days, to make the usual submission to the queen's majesty, in matters of religion, shall be deemed a traitor. Then I am out of the case, said father Walpole, who was apprehended, before I had been one day on English ground.
• Here Beamont being put to a nonplus, judge Elvin asked him, if he was ready to make that submission to the queen, in matters of religion, which the laws of the kingdom required ? viz: to acknowledge her supremacy, and abjure the pope. Father Walpole answered, he did not know what laws they had made in England, whilst he was abroad, nor what submission these laws required; but this, he very well knew, that no law could oblige any one, that is not agreeable to the laws of God; and that the submission that is to be paid to the earthly princes, must always be subordinate to that submission which we owe to the great King of heaven and earth. Then he added, You, my lords, sit here at present in judgment, as men, and judge as such, being subject to error and passion ; but know for certain, that there is a sovereign judge, who will judge righteously; whom in all things we must obey in the first place; and then our lawful princes, in such things as are lawful, and no farther.
• Here, the lord president spoke, We deal very favourably with you,
Mr. Walpole, said he, when, notwithstanding all these treasons and conspiracies with the persons aforesaid, we offer you the benefit of the law, if you will but make the submission ordered by the law; which, if you will not accept of, it is proper you should be punished according to the law. Father Walpole replied, there is nothing, my lord, in which I would not most willingly submit myself, provided it be not against God: but inay his divine Majesty never suffer me to consent to the least thing, by which he may be dishonoured, nor you to desire it of
As to the queen, I every day pray for her to our Lord God, that he would bless her with his holy spirit, and give her his grace to do her duty in all things in this world, to the end, that she may enjoy eternal glory in the world to come: and God is my witness, that to all here present, and particularly to my accusers, and such as desire my death, I wish as to myself, the salvation of their souls, and that, to this end, they may live in the true catholic faith, the only way to eternal happiness.
The court apprehending the impression the confessor's words might make upon the people, (who, by this time, could not but perceive that this noise about treason, was but a pretence; and that a submission to the queen's religion, was all that was insisted upon, thought fit to put an end to the trial ; so the judges summed up the evidence against the prisoner, which was no other ihan his own confession, viz : that he was a priest and jesuit; that he had been with the king of Spain; that he had treated with father Parsons and father Holt, and others whom they called fugitives, rebels, and traitors ; and that he had retured into England to convert his country, that is, as they interpreted it, to seduce her majesty's subjects from the religion, by law established, and to reconcile them to the see of Rome.' They, the jury, were directed to find him guilty of the indictment. To whom, as they were going out, father Walpole addressed himself, in these words, Gentlemen of the jury, I confess most willingly, that I am a priest, and that I am of the company of Jesus, or a jesuit ; and that I came over in order to convert my country to the catholic faith, and to invite sinners to repentance. All this, I never will deny: this is the duty of my calling. If you find any thing else in me, that is not agreeable to my profession, show me no favour. In the mean time, act according to your consciences, and remember, you must give an account to God.'
The jury went out, but returned again quickly, and brought in their verdict, guilty; which, father Walpole liearing, showed great content and joy, and returned most hearty thanks to the divine majesty. This passed on Thursday ; but the sentence was not pronounced, till the Saturday following: which was executed, as we have seen, on the Monday.