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Title: What was the Gunpowder Plot? - The Traditional Story Tested by Original Evidence
Author: Gerard, John, 1840-1912
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES: Text in italics is enclosed by underscore
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they are enclosed in curly braces, {}. A small number of macron
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end of the text.

[Illustration: THE POWDER PLOT]

                              WHAT WAS THE
                             GUNPOWDER PLOT?


                            JOHN GERARD, S.J.


                        OSGOOD, McILVAINE & CO.
                        45, ALBEMARLE STREET, W.


THE following study of the Gunpowder Plot has grown out of the
accidental circumstance that, having undertaken to read a paper before
the Historical Research Society, at Archbishop's House, Westminster, as
the day on which it was to be read chanced to be the 5th of November,[1]
I was asked to take the famous conspiracy for my subject. It was with
much reluctance that I agreed to do so, believing, as I then did, that
there was absolutely nothing fresh to say upon this topic, that no
incident in our annals had been more thoroughly threshed out, and that
in regard of none, so far, at least, as its broader outlines are
concerned, was the truth more clearly established.

When, however, I turned to the sources whence our knowledge of the
transaction is derived, and in particular to the original documents upon
which it is ultimately based, I was startled to find how grave were the
doubts and difficulties which suggested themselves at every turn, while,
though slowly and gradually, yet with ever gathering force, the
conviction forced itself upon me, that, not merely in its details is the
traditional story unworthy of credit, but that all the evidence points
to a conclusion fundamentally at variance with it. Nothing contributed
so powerfully to this conviction as to find that every fresh line of
reasoning or channel of information which could be discovered inevitably
tended, in one way or another, towards the same result. In the following
pages are presented to the reader the principal arguments which have
wrought this change of view in my own mind.[2]

I cannot pretend to furnish any full or wholly satisfactory answer to
the question which stands upon the title-page. The real history of the
Plot in all its stages we shall, in all probability, never know. If,
however, we cannot satisfy ourselves of the truth, it will be much to
ascertain what is false; to convince ourselves that the account of the
matter officially supplied, and almost universally accepted, is
obviously untrue, and that the balance of probability lies heavily
against those who invented it, as having been the real plotters,
devising and working the scheme for their own ends.

Neither have I any wish to ignore, or to extenuate, the objections which
militate against such a conclusion, objections arising from
considerations of a general character, rather than from any positive
evidence. Why, it may reasonably be asked, if the government of the day
were ready to go so far as is alleged, did they not go further? Why,
being supremely anxious to incriminate the priests, did they not
fabricate unequivocal evidence against them, instead of satisfying
themselves with what appears to us far from conclusive? Why did they
encumber their tale with incidents, which, if they did not really occur,
could serve only to damage it, inasmuch as we, at this distance of
time, can argue that they are impossible and absurd? How is it,
moreover, that the absurdity was not patent to contemporaries, and was
not urged by those who had every reason to mislike and mistrust the
party in power?

Considerations such as these undoubtedly deserve all attention, and must
be fully weighed, but while they avail to establish a certain
presumption in favour of the official story, I cannot but think that the
sum of probabilities tells strongly the other way. It must be remembered
that three centuries ago the intrinsic likelihood or unlikelihood of a
tale did not go for much, and the accounts of plots in particular appear
to have obtained general credence in proportion as they were incredible,
as the case of Squires a few years earlier, and of Titus Oates somewhat
later, sufficiently testify. It is moreover as difficult for us to enter
into the crooked and complex methods of action which commended
themselves to the statesmen of the period, as to appreciate the force of
the cumbrous and abusive harangues which earned for Sir Edward Coke the
character of an incomparable pleader. On the other hand, it appears
certain that they who had so long played the game must have understood
it best, and, whatever else may be said of them, they always contrived
to win. In regard of Father Garnet, for example, we may think the
evidence adduced by the prosecution quite insufficient, but none the
less it in fact availed not only to send him to the gallows, but to
brand him in popular estimation for generations, and even for centuries,
as the arch-traitor to whose machinations the whole enterprise was due.
In the case of some individuals obnoxious to the government, it seems
evident that downright forgery was actually practised.

The question of Father Garnet's complicity, though usually considered as
the one point in connection with the Plot requiring to be discussed, is
not treated in the following pages. It is doubtless true that to prove
the conspiracy to have been a trick of State, is not the same thing as
proving that he was not entangled in it; but, at the same time, the
first point, if it can be established, will deprive the other of almost
all its interest. Nevertheless, Father Garnet's case will still require
to be fully treated on its own merits, but this cannot be done within
the limits of such an inquiry as the present. It is not by confining our
attention to one isolated incident in his career, nor by discussing once
again the familiar documents connected therewith, that we can form a
sound and satisfactory judgment about him. For this purpose, full
consideration must be given to what has hitherto been almost entirely
ignored, the nature and character of the man, as exhibited especially
during the eighteen years of his missionary life in England, during most
of which period he acted as the superior of his brother Jesuits. There
exist abundant materials for his biography, in his official and
confidential correspondence, preserved at Stonyhurst and elsewhere, and
not till the information thus supplied shall have been duly utilized
will it be possible to judge whether the part assigned to him by his
enemies in this wild and wicked design can, even conceivably, represent
the truth. It may, I trust, be possible at no distant date to attempt
this work, but it is not possible now, and to introduce this topic into
our present discussion would only confuse the issue which is before us.

Except in one or two instances, I have judged it advisable, for the sake
of clearness, to modernize the spelling of documents quoted in the text.
In the notes they are usually given in their original form.

I have to acknowledge my indebtedness in many particulars to Mr. H.W.
Brewer, who not only contributes valuable sketches to illustrate the
narrative, but has furnished many important notes and suggestions, based
upon his exhaustive knowledge of ancient London. I have to thank the
Marquis of Salisbury for permission to examine MSS. in the Hatfield
collection, and his lordship's librarian, Mr. Gunton, for information
supplied from the same source. Through the courtesy of the Deputy-Keeper
of the Public Records, every facility has been afforded me for
consulting the precious documents contained in the "Gunpowder Plot
Book." The Dean of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, has kindly given me
access to an important MS. in the College Library; and I have been
allowed by the Rector of Stonyhurst to retain in my hands Father
Greenway's MS. history of the Plot during the whole period of my work.
The proprietors of the _Daily Graphic_ have allowed me to use two
sketches of the interior of "Guy Faukes' Cellar," and one of his
lantern, originally prepared by Mr. Brewer for that journal.


[1] 1894.

[2] Some of these have been partially set forth in a series of six
articles appearing in _The Month_, December 1894-May, 1895.


  CHAP.                                                             PAGE

  I. THE STATE OF THE QUESTION                                         1

    Disclosure of the Plot--Arrest of Guy Faukes--Flight of his
    associates--Their abortive insurrection--Their fate--The crime
    charged on Catholics in general--Garnet and other Jesuits proclaimed
    as the ringleaders--Capture of Garnet--Efforts to procure evidence
    against him--His execution--Previous history of the Plot as
    traditionally narrated; Proceedings and plans of the
    conspirators--Manner of the discovery.

    Reasons for suspecting the truth of this history--Previous plots
    originated or manipulated by the government--Suspicious
    circumstances respecting the Gunpowder Plot in particular--Essential
    points of the inquiry.

  II. THE PERSONS CONCERNED                                           19

    Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury--His character variously
    estimated--Discreditable incidents of his career--Contemporary
    judgments of him--His unpopularity--His political difficulties
    largely dissipated in consequence of the Plot.

    His hatred of and hostility towards the Catholics--Their numbers and
    importance--Their hopes from King James, and their
    disappointment--The probability that some would have recourse to
    violence--The conspirators known as men likely to seek such a
    remedy--Their previous history--Difficulties and contradictions in
    regard of their character.


    The government at once suspected of having contrived or fomented the
    Plot--Persistence of these suspicions, to which historians for more
    than a century bear witness--No fresh information accounts for their

  IV. THE TRADITIONAL STORY                                           54

    The old House of Lords and its surroundings--House hired by the
    conspirators--They attempt to dig a mine beneath the Peers'
    Chamber--Difficulties and improbabilities of the account--The
    "Cellar" hired--Its position and character--The gunpowder bought and
    stored--Further problems concerning it--The conspirators'
    plans--Contradictions respecting them--Their wild and absurd
    character--Impossibility of the supposition that the proceedings
    escaped the notice of the government.

  V. THE GOVERNMENT INTELLIGENCE DEPARTMENT                           93

    Evidence that the government were fully aware of what was in
    progress--Various intelligence supplied to them--Cecil's uneasiness
    on account of the spread of Catholicity, and the king's
    communication with the pope--His evident determination to force on
    James a policy of intolerance--He intimates that a great move is
    about to be made, and acknowledges to information concerning the
    conspirators and their schemes--His political methods illustrated.

  VI. THE "DISCOVERY"                                                114

    Importance of the letter received by Lord Monteagle--Extraordinary
    prominence given to it--Monteagle's character--He receives the
    letter--Suspicious circumstances connected with its arrival--It is
    shown to Cecil--Hopeless contradictions of the official narrative as
    to what followed--Impossibility of ascertaining what actually
    occurred--The French version of the story--The conduct of the
    government at variance with their own professions--Their
    inexplicable delay in making the discovery--They take no precautions
    against the recurrence of danger--The mystery of the
    gunpowder--Incredibility of the official narration.

  VII. PERCY, CATESBY, AND TRESHAM                                   147

    Probability that the government had an agent among the
    conspirators--Suspicious circumstances regarding Percy--His private
    life--His alleged intercourse with Cecil--His death.

    Catesby and Tresham likewise accused of secret dealings with
    Cecil--Catesby's falsehood towards his associates and Father
    Garnet--Tresham's strange conduct after the discovery--His
    mysterious death.

    Alleged positive evidence against the government.

  VIII. THE GOVERNMENT'S CASE                                        163

    A monopoly secured for the official narrative, which is admittedly
    untruthful--Suspicions suggested by such a course, especially in
    such a case--The confessions of Faukes and Winter, on which this
    narrative is based, deserve no credit--Nor does the evidence of
    Bates against Greenway--Indications of foul play in regard of Robert
    Winter--The case of Owen, Baldwin and Cresswell; assertions made
    respecting them of which no proof can be produced--Efforts to
    implicate Sir Walter Raleigh and others--Falsification of
    evidence--The service of forgers employed.

    Catholic writers have drawn their accounts from the sources provided
    by the government.

  IX. THE SEQUEL                                                     209

    Cecil well informed as to the real nature of the conspiracy, and
    apprehends no danger from it--At once turns it to account by
    promoting anti-Catholic legislation--Honour and popularity resulting
    to him--Ruin of the Earl of Northumberland--Cecil's manifesto--His
    alleged attempt to start a second plot.

    The popular history of the Plot, and how it was circulated--Singular
    suitability of the Fifth of November for the "Discovery."

    Summary of the argument.

  APPENDIX A. NOTES ON THE ILLUSTRATIONS                             235


  APPENDIX C. THE QUESTION OF SUCCESSION                             249

  APPENDIX D. THE SPANISH TREASON                                    251

  APPENDIX E. SITE OF PERCY'S LODGING                                251

  APPENDIX F. ENROLMENT OF CONSPIRATORS                              252

  APPENDIX G. HENRY WRIGHT THE INFORMER                              254

  APPENDIX H. MONTEAGLE'S LETTER TO KING JAMES                       256

  APPENDIX I. EPITAPH ON PETER HEIWOOD                               258

  APPENDIX K. THE USE OF TORTURE                                     259

  APPENDIX L. MYTHS AND LEGENDS OF THE PLOT                          260



  INDEX                                                              279




  2. THE GUNPOWDER PLOT. I.                               _Frontispiece_

  3.  "      "      "    II.                                          90

  4.  "      "      "    III.                                        215

  5.  "      "      "    IV.                                         227

  6.  "      "      "    V.                                          229

  7. DISCOVERY OF THE GUNPOWDER PLOT                                 136

  8. MONTEAGLE AND LETTER                                            115

  9. ARREST OF FAUKES                                                125

  10. GUY FAUKES' LANTERN                                            139

  11. GROUP OF CONSPIRATORS                                            3

  12. THOMAS PERCY                                                   149

  13. HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT IN 1605                                  56-7

  14. GROUND PLAN OF THE SAME                                         59

  15. HOUSE OF LORDS IN 1807                                          61

  16. INTERIOR OF HOUSE OF LORDS, 1755                                97

  17. INTERIOR OF "CELLAR"                                            71

  18. ARCHES FROM "CELLAR"                                            75

  19. VAULT UNDER PAINTED CHAMBER                                     73

  20. CELL ADJOINING PAINTED CHAMBER                                  83


  22. SIGNATURES OF FAUKES AND OLDCORNE                              173


    "Quis hæc posteris sic narrare poterit, ut facta non ficta esse

    "Ages to come will be in doubt whether it were a fact or a fiction."

        _Sir Edw. Coke on the trial of the Conspirators._




ON the morning of Tuesday, the 5th of November, 1605, which day was
appointed for the opening of a new Parliamentary session, London rang
with the news that in the course of the night a diabolical plot had been
discovered, by which the king and legislature were to have been
destroyed at a blow. In a chamber beneath the House of Lords had been
found a great quantity of gunpowder, and with it a man, calling himself
John Johnson, who, finding that the game was up, fully acknowledged his
intention to have fired the magazine while the royal speech was being
delivered, according to custom, overhead, and so to have blown King,
Lords, and Commons into the air. At the same time, he doggedly refused
to say who were his accomplices, or whether he had any.

This is the earliest point at which the story of the Gunpowder Plot can
be taken up with any certainty. Of what followed, at least as to the
main outlines, we are sufficiently well informed. Johnson, whose true
name was presently found to be Guy, or Guido, Faukes,[3] proved, it is
true, a most obstinate and unsatisfactory witness, and obstinately
refused to give any evidence which might incriminate others. But the
actions of his confederates quickly supplied the information which he
withheld. It was known that the "cellar" in which the powder was found,
as well as a house adjacent, had been hired in the name of one Thomas
Percy, a Catholic gentleman, perhaps a kinsman, and certainly a
dependent, of the Earl of Northumberland. It was now discovered that he
and others of his acquaintance had fled from London on the previous day,
upon receipt of intelligence that the plot seemed at least to be
suspected. Not many hours later the fugitives were heard of in
Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and Staffordshire, the native counties of
several amongst them, attempting to rally others to their desperate
fortunes, and to levy war against the crown. For this purpose they
forcibly seized cavalry horses[4] at Warwick, and arms at Whewell
Grange, a seat of Lord Windsor's. These violent proceedings having
raised the country behind them, they were pursued by the sheriffs with
what forces could be got together, and finally brought to bay at
Holbeche, in Staffordshire, the residence of one Stephen Littleton, a
Catholic gentleman.

There proved to have been thirteen men in all who had undoubtedly been
participators in the treason. Of these Faukes, as we have seen, was
already in the hands of justice. Another, Francis Tresham, had not fled
with his associates, but remained quietly, and without attempting
concealment, in London, even going to the council and offering them his
services; after a week he was taken into custody. The eleven who either
betook themselves to the country, or were already there, awaiting the
issue of the enterprise, and prepared to co-operate in the rising which
was to be its sequel, were Robert Catesby, Thomas Percy, Robert and
Thomas Winter, John and Christopher Wright, John Grant, Robert Keyes,
Ambrose Rokewood, Sir Everard Digby, and Thomas Bates. All were
Catholics, and all, with the exception of Bates, Catesby's servant, were
"gentlemen of blood and name," some of them, notably Robert Winter,
Rokewood, Digby, and Tresham, being men of ample fortune.


On Friday, November 8th, three days after the discovery, Sir Richard
Walsh, sheriff of Worcestershire, attacked Holbeche. Catesby, Percy, and
the two Wrights were killed or mortally wounded in the assault. The
others were taken prisoners on the spot or in its neighbourhood, with
the exception of Robert Winter, who, accompanied by their host, Stephen
Littleton, contrived to elude capture for upwards of two months, being
at last apprehended, in January, at Hagley Hall, Worcestershire. All the
prisoners were at once taken up to London, and being there confined,
were frequently and diligently examined by the council, to trace, if
possible, farther ramifications of the conspiracy, and especially to
inculpate the Catholic clergy.[5] Torture, it is evident, was employed
with this object.

Meanwhile, on November 9th, King James addressed to his Parliament a
speech, wherein he declared that the abominable crime which had been
intended was the direct result of Catholic principles, Popery being "the
true mystery of iniquity." In like manner Chichester, the Lord Deputy in
Ireland, was informed by Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, his Majesty's
Secretary of State, that the Plot was an "abominable practice of Rome
and Satan,"[6] while the monarch himself sent word to Sir John Harington
that "these designs were not formed by a few," that "the whole legion of
Catholics were consulted," that "the priests were to pacify their
consciences, and the Pope confirm a general absolution for this glorious

Then follows an interval during which we know little of the course of
events which were proceeding in the seclusion of the council-room and
torture-chamber; but on December 4th we find Cecil complaining that he
could obtain little or no evidence against the really important persons:
"Most of the prisoners," he writes,[8] "have wilfully forsworn that the
priests knew anything in particular, and obstinately refuse to be
accusers of them, yea, what torture soever they be put to."

On January 15th, 1605-6, a proclamation was issued declaring that the
Jesuit fathers, John Gerard, Henry Garnet, and Oswald Greenway, or
Tesimond, were proved to have been "peculiarly practisers" in the
treason, and offering a reward for their apprehension. On the 21st of
the same month Parliament met, having been prorogued immediately after
the king's speech of November 9th, and four days later an Act was passed
for the perpetual solemnization of the anniversary of the projected
crime, the preamble whereof charged its guilt upon "Many malignant and
devilish papists, jesuits, and seminary priests, much envying the true
and free possession of the Gospel by the nation, under the greatest,
most learned, and most religious monarch who had ever occupied the

In consequence of this Act, was introduced into the Anglican liturgy the
celebrated Fifth of November service, in the collect of which the king,
royal family, nobility, clergy, and commons are spoken of as having
been "by Popish treachery appointed as sheep to the slaughter, in a most
barbarous and savage manner, beyond the examples of former ages;" while
the day itself was marked in the calendar as the "Papists' Conspiracy."

It will thus be seen that the Powder Plot was by this time officially
stigmatized as the work of the Catholic body in general, and in
particular of their priests; thus acquiring an importance and a
significance which could not be attributed to it were it but the wild
attempt of a few turbulent men. As a natural corollary we find
Parliament busily engaged upon measures to insure the more effectual
execution of the penal laws.[10]

On January 27th the surviving conspirators, Robert and Thomas Winter,
Faukes, Grant, Rokewood, Keyes, Digby, and Bates,[11] were put upon
their trial. In the indictment preferred against them, it was explicitly
stated that the Plot was contrived by Garnet, Gerard, Greenway, and
other Jesuits, to whose traitorous persuasions the prisoners at the bar
had wickedly yielded. All were found guilty, Digby, Robert Winter,
Grant, and Bates being executed at the west end of St. Paul's Church, on
January the 30th, and the rest on the following day in Old Palace Yard.

On the very day upon which the first company suffered, Father Garnet,
whose hiding-place was known, and who had been closely invested for nine
days, was captured, in company with another Jesuit, Father Oldcorne. The
latter, though never charged with knowledge of the plot, was put to
death for having aided and abetted Garnet in his attempt to escape.
Garnet himself, being brought to London, was lodged first in the
Gatehouse and afterwards in the Tower.

As we have seen, he had already been proclaimed as a traitor, and
"particular practiser" in the conspiracy, and had moreover been
officially described as the head and front of the treason. Of the latter
charge, after his capture, nothing was ever heard. Of his participation,
proofs, it appeared, still remained to be discovered, for on the 3rd of
March Cecil still spoke of them as in the future.[12] In order to obtain
the required evidence of his complicity, Garnet was examined
three-and-twenty times before the council, and, in addition, various
artifices were practised which need not now be detailed. On the 28th of
March, 1606, he was brought to trial, and on May 3rd he was hanged at
St. Paul's. The Gunpowder Conspirators were thenceforth described in
government publications as "Garnet, a Jesuit, and his confederates."

Such is, in outline, the course of events which followed the discovery
of November 5th, all circumstances being here omitted which are by
possibility open to dispute.

It will probably be maintained, as our best and most circumspect
historians appear to have assumed, that we are in possession of
information enabling us to construct a similar sketch of what preceded
and led up to these events,--whatever obscurity there may be regarding
the complicity of those whose participation would invest the plot with
the significance which has been attributed to it. If it were indeed but
the individual design of a small knot of men, acting for themselves and
of themselves, then, though they were all Catholics, and were actuated
by a desire to aid the Catholic cause, the crime they intended could not
justly be charged upon the body of their co-religionists. It would be
quite otherwise if Catholics in general were shown to have countenanced
it, or even if such representative men as members of the priesthood were
found to have approved so abominable a project, or even to have
consented to it, or knowingly kept silence regarding it. Of the
complicity of Catholics in general or of their priesthood as a body
there is no proof whatever, nor has it ever been seriously attempted to
establish such a charge. As to the three Jesuits already named, who
alone have been seriously accused, there is no proof, the sufficiency of
which may not be questioned. But as to the fact that they who originated
the Plot were Catholics, that they acted simply with the object of
benefiting their Church, and that the nation most narrowly escaped an
appalling disaster at their hands, can there be any reasonable doubt? Is
not the account of their proceedings, to be read in any work on the
subject, as absolutely certain as anything in our history?

This account is as follows. About a year after the accession of James
I.,[13] when it began to be evident that the hopes of toleration at his
hands, which the Catholics had entertained, were to be disappointed,
Robert Catesby, a man of strong character, and with an extraordinary
power of influencing others, bethought him in his wrath of this means
whereby to take summary vengeance at once upon the monarch and the
legislators, under whose cruelty he himself and his fellows were
groaning. The plan was proposed to John Wright and Thomas Winter, who
approved it. Faukes was brought over from the Low Countries, as a man
likely to be of much service in such an enterprise. Shortly afterwards
Percy joined them,[14] and somewhat later Keyes and Christopher Wright
were added to their number.[15] All the associates were required to take
an oath of secrecy,[16] and to confirm it by receiving Holy

These are the seven "gentlemen of blood and name," as Faukes describes
them, who had the main hand in the operations which we have to study. At
a later period six others were associated with them, Robert Winter,
elder brother of Thomas, and Grant, both gentlemen of property, Bates,
Catesby's servant, and finally, Rokewood, Digby, and Tresham, all rich
men, who were brought in chiefly for the sake of their wealth, and were
enlisted when the preparations for the intended explosion had all been
completed, in view of the rising which was to follow.[18]

Commencing operations about the middle of December, 1604, these
confederates first endeavoured to dig a mine under the House of Lords,
and afterwards hired a large room, described as a cellar, situated
beneath the Peers' Chamber, and in this stored a quantity of gunpowder,
which Faukes was to fire by a train, while the King, Lords, and Commons,
were assembled above.

Their enemies being thus destroyed, they did not contemplate a
revolution, but were resolved to get possession of one of the king's
sons, or, failing that, of one of his daughters, whom they would
proclaim as sovereign, constituting themselves the guardians of the new
monarch. They also contrived a "hunting match" on Dunsmoor heath, near
Rugby, which was to be in progress when the news of the catastrophe in
London should arrive; the sportsmen assembled for which would furnish,
it was hoped, the nucleus of an army.

Meanwhile, as we are assured--and this is the crucial point of the whole
story--the government of James I. had no suspicion of what was going on,
and, lulled in false security, were on the verge of destruction, when a
lucky circumstance intervened. On October 26th, ten days before the
meeting of Parliament, a Catholic peer, Lord Monteagle, received an
anonymous letter, couched in vague and incoherent language, warning him
to absent himself from the opening ceremony. This document Monteagle at
once took to the king's prime minister, Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury,
who promptly divined its meaning and the precise danger indicated,
although he allowed King James to fancy that he was himself the first to
interpret it, when it was shown to him five days later.[19] Not for
four other days were active steps taken, that is, till the early morning
of the fatal Fifth. Then took place the discovery of which we have
already heard.

Such is, in brief, the accepted version of the history, and of its
substantial correctness there is commonly assumed to be no room for
reasonable doubt. As Mr. Jardine writes,[20] "The outlines of the
transaction were too notorious to be suppressed or disguised; that a
design had been formed to blow up the Parliament House, with the King,
the Royal Family, the Lords and Commons, and that this design was formed
by Catholic men and for Catholic purposes, could never admit of
controversy or concealment." In like manner, while acknowledging that in
approaching the question of Father Garnet's complicity, or that of other
priests, we find ourselves upon uncertain ground, Mr. Gardiner has no
hesitation in declaring that "the whole story of the plot, as far as it
relates to the lay conspirators, rests upon indisputable evidence."[21]

Nevertheless there appear to be considerations, demanding more attention
than they have hitherto received, which forbid the supposition that, in
regard of what is most vital, this official story can possibly be true;
while the extreme care with which it has obviously been elaborated,
suggests the conclusion that it was intended to disguise facts, to the
concealment of which the government of the day attached supreme

As has been said, the cardinal point of the tale, as commonly told, is
that the Plot was a secret and dangerous conspiracy, conducted with so
much craft as to have baffled detection, but for a lucky accident; that
the vigilance of the authorities was completely at fault; and that they
found themselves suddenly on the very brink of a terrible catastrophe of
which they had no suspicion.[22] If, on the contrary, it should appear
that they had ample information of what was going on, while feigning
absolute ignorance; that they studiously devised a false account of the
manner in which it came to their knowledge; and that their whole conduct
is quite inconsistent with that sense of imminent danger which they so
loudly professed--the question inevitably suggests itself as to whether
we can rely upon the authenticity of the opening chapters of a history,
the conclusion of which has been so dexterously manipulated.

A French writer has observed[23] that the plots undertaken under
Elizabeth and James I. have this feature in common, that they proved,
one and all, extremely opportune for those against whom they were
directed. To this law the Gunpowder Plot was no exception. Whatever be
the true history of its origin, it certainly placed in the hands of the
king's chief minister a most effective weapon for the enforcement of his
favourite policy, and very materially strengthened his own position.
Without doubt the sensational manner of its "discovery" largely
contributed to its success in this respect; and if this were ingeniously
contrived for such a purpose, may it not be that a like ingenuity had
been employed in providing the material destined to be so artistically

There can be no question as to the wide prevalence of the belief that
previous plots had owed their origin to the policy of the statesmen who
finally detected them, a belief witnessed to by Lord Castlemaine,[24]
who declares that "it was a piece of wit in Queen Elizabeth's days to
draw men into such devices," and that "making and fomenting plots was
then in fashion; nor can it be denied that good grounds for such an
opinion were not lacking". The unfortunate man Squires had been executed
on the ridiculous charge that he had come over from Spain in order to
poison the pommel of Queen Elizabeth's saddle. Dr. Parry, we are
informed by Bishop Goodman, whose verdict is endorsed by Mr. Brewer,[25]
was put to death by those who knew him to be guiltless in their regard,
they having themselves employed him in the business for which he
suffered. Concerning Babington's famous plot, it is absolutely certain
that, whatever its origin, it was, almost from the first, fully known to
Walsingham, through whose hands passed the correspondence between the
conspirators, and who assiduously worked the enterprise, in order to
turn it to the destruction of the Queen of Scots. As to Lopez, the
Jewish physician, it is impossible not to concur in the verdict that
his condemnation was at least as much owing to political intrigue as to
the weight of evidence.[26] Concerning this period Mr. Brewer says: "The
Roman Catholics seem to have made just complaints of the subtle and
unworthy artifices of Leicester and Walsingham, by whom they were
entrapped into the guilt of high treason. 'And verily,' as [Camden]
expresses it, there were at this time crafty ways devised to try how men
stood affected; counterfeit letters were sent in the name of the Queen
of Scots and left at papists' houses; spies were sent up and down the
country to note people's dispositions and lay hold of their words; and
reporters of vain and idle stories were credited and encouraged."[27]
Under King James,[28] as Bishop Goodman declares, the priest Watson was
hanged for treason by those who had employed him.[29]

It must farther be observed that the particular Plot which is our
subject was stamped with certain features more than commonly suspicious.
Even on the face of things, as will be seen from the summary already
given, it was steadily utilized from the first for a purpose which it
could not legitimately be made to serve. That the Catholics of England,
as a body, had any connection with it there is not, nor ever appeared to
be, any vestige of a proof; still less that the official superiors of
the Church, including the Pope himself, were concerned in it. Yet the
first act of the government was to lay it at the door of all these, thus
investing it with a character which was, indeed, eminently fitted to
sustain their own policy, but to which it was no-wise entitled. Even in
regard of Father Garnet and his fellow Jesuits, whatever judgment may
now be formed concerning them, it is clear that it was determined to
connect them with the conspiracy long before any evidence at all was
forthcoming to sustain the charge. The actual confederates were, in
fact, treated throughout as in themselves of little or no account, and
as important only in so far as they might consent to incriminate those
whom the authorities wished to be incriminated.

The determined manner in which this object was ever kept in view, the
unscrupulous means constantly employed for its attainment, the vehemence
with which matters were asserted to have been proved, any proof of which
was never even seriously attempted--in a word, the elaborate system of
falsification by which alone the story of the conspiracy was made to
suit the purpose it so effectually served, can inspire us with no
confidence that the foundation upon which such a superstructure was
erected, was itself what it was said to be.

On the other hand, when we examine into the details supplied to us as to
the progress of the affair, we find that much of what the conspirators
are said to have done is well-nigh incredible, while it is utterly
impossible that if they really acted in the manner described, the public
authorities should not have had full knowledge of their proceedings. We
also find not only that the same authorities, while feigning ignorance
of anything of the kind, were perfectly well aware that these very
conspirators had something in hand, but that long before the
"discovery," in fact, at the very time when the conspiracy is said to
have been hatched, their officials were working a Catholic plot, by
means of secret agents, and even making arrangements as to who were to
be implicated therein.

These are, in brief, some of the considerations which point to a
conclusion utterly at variance with the received version of the story,
the conclusion, namely, that, for purposes of State, the government of
the day either found means to instigate the conspirators to undertake
their enterprise, or, at least, being, from an early stage of the
undertaking, fully aware of what was going on, sedulously nursed the
insane scheme till the time came to make capital out of it. That the
conspirators, or the greater number of them, really meant to strike a
great blow is not to be denied, though it may be less easy to assure
ourselves as to its precise character; and their guilt will not be
palliated should it appear that, in projecting an atrocious crime, they
were unwittingly playing the game of plotters more astute than
themselves. At the same time, while fully endorsing the sentiment of a
Catholic writer,[30] that they who suffer themselves to be drawn into a
plot like fools, deserve to be hanged for it like knaves, it is
impossible not to agree with another when he writes:[31] "This account
does not excuse the conspirators, but lays a heavy weight upon the
devils who tempted them beyond their strength."

The view thus set forth will perhaps be considered unworthy of serious
discussion, and it must be fully admitted, that there can be no excuse
for making charges such as it involves, unless solid grounds can be
alleged for so doing. That any such grounds are to be found historians
of good repute utterly deny. Mr. Hallam roundly declares:[32] "To deny
that there was such a plot, or, which is the same thing, to throw the
whole on the contrivance and management of Cecil, as has sometimes been
done, argues great effrontery in those who lead, and great stupidity in
those who follow." Similarly, Mr. Gardiner,[33] while allowing that
contemporaries accused Cecil of inventing the Plot, is content to
dismiss such a charge as "absurd."

Whether it be so or not we have now to inquire.


[3] So he himself always wrote it.

[4] Also described as "Great Horses," or "Horses for the great Saddle."

[5] "The great object of the Government now was to obtain evidence
against the priests."--GARDINER, _History of England_, i. 267. Ed. 1883.

[6] See his despatch in reply. _Irish State Papers_, vol. 217, 95.
Cornwallis received Cecil's letter on November 22nd.

[7] See Harington's account of the king's message, _Nugæ Antiquæ_, i.

[8] To Favat. (Copy) Brit. Mus. MSS. Add. 6178, fol. 625.

[9] Statutes: Anno 3^o Jacobi, c. 1.

[10] This work was taken in hand by the Commons, when, in spite of the
alarming circumstances of the time, they met on November 5th, and was
carried on at every subsequent sitting. The Lords also met on the 5th,
but transacted no business. _Journals of Parliament._

[11] Tresham had died in the Tower, December 22nd. Although he had not
been tried, his remains were treated as those of a traitor, his head
being cut off and fixed above the gates of Northampton (_Dom. James I._
xvii. 62.)

[12] "That which remaineth is but this, to assure you that ere many
daies you shall hear that Father Garnet ... is layd open for a
principall conspirator even in the particular Treason of the
Powder."--_To Sir Henry Bruncard, P.R.O. Ireland_, vol. 218, March
3rd, 1605-6. Also (Calendar) _Dom. James I._ xix. 10.

[13] In Lent, 1603-4. Easter fell that year on April 8th.

[14] "About the middle of Easter Term."--_Thomas Winter's declaration_,
of November 23rd, 1605.

[15] "Keyes, about a month before Michaelmas."--_Ibid._ About
Christopher Wright there is much confusion, Faukes (November 17th, 1605)
implying that he was introduced before Christmas, and Thomas Winter
(November 23rd, 1605) that it was about a fortnight after the following
Candlemas, _i.e._, about the middle of February.

[16] The form of this oath is thus given in the official account: "You
shall swear by the blessed Trinity, and by the Sacrament you now propose
to receive, never to disclose directly or indirectly, by word or
circumstance, the matter that shall be proposed to you to keep secret,
nor desist from the execution thereof until the rest shall give you
leave." It is a singular circumstance that the form of this oath, which
was repeated in official publications, with an emphasis itself
inexplicable, occurs in only one of the conspirators' confessions, viz.,
the oft-quoted declaration of T. Winter, November 23rd, 1605. This--as
we shall see, a most suspicious document--was one of the two selected
for publication, on which the traditional history of the plot depends.
Curiously enough, however, the oath, with sundry other matters, was
omitted from the published version of the confession.

[Published in the "King's Book:" copy, or draft, for publication, in the
Record Office: original at Hatfield. Copy of original Brit. Mus. Add.
MSS., 6178, 75.]

[17] T. Winter says: "Having upon a primer given each other the oath of
secrecy, in a chamber where no other body was, we went after into the
next room and heard mass, and received the blessed Sacrament upon the
same."--_Declaration_, November 23rd, 1605.

[18] Digby was enlisted "about Michaelmas, 1605;" Rokewood about a month
before the 5th of November. Tresham gives October 14th as the date of
his own initiation. _Examination_, November 13th, 1605.

[19] This is clear from a comparison of Cecil's private letter to
Cornwallis and others (Winwood, _Memorials_, ii. 170), with the official
account published in the _Discourse of the manner of the Discovery of
the Gunpowder Plot_.

[20] _Criminal Trials_, ii. 3.

[21] _History of England_, i. 269 (1883).

[22] "We had all been blowne up at a clapp, if God out of His Mercie and
just Reuenge against so great an Abomination, had not destined it to be
discovered, though very miraculously, even some twelve Houres before the
matter should have been put in execution."--_Cecil to Cornwallis_,
November 9th, 1605. Winwood, _Memorials_, ii. 170.

[23] M. l'Abbé Destombes, _La persécution en Angleterre sous le règne
d'Elizabeth_, p. 176.

[24] _Catholique Apology_, third edition, p. 403.

[25] Goodman's _Court of King James_, i. 121.

[26] Mr. Sidney Lee, _Dictionary of National Biography_, _sub nom._

[27] Goodman's _Court of King James_, i. 121. Ed. J.S. Brewer.

[28] _Court of King James_, p. 64.

[29] Of this affair,--the "Bye" and the "Main,"--Goodman says, "[This] I
did ever think to be an old relic of the treasons in Q. Elizabeth's
time, and that George Brooks was the contriver thereof, who being
brother-in-law to the Secretary, and having great wit, small means, and
a vast expense, did only try men's allegiance, and had an intent to
betray one another, but were all taken napping and so involved in one
net. This in effect appears by Brooks' confession; and certainly K.
James ... had no opinion of that treason, and therefore was pleased to
pardon all save only Brooks and the priests."--_Court of King James_, i.

[30] _A plain and rational account of the Catholick Faith_, etc. Rouen,
1721, p. 200.

[31] Dodd, _Church History of England_, Brussels, 1739, i. 334.

[32] _Constitutional History_, i. 406, note, Seventh Edition. In the
same note the historian, discussing the case of Father Garnet, speaks of
"the damning circumstance that he was taken at Hendlip in concealment
along with the other conspirators." He who wrote thus can have had but a
slight acquaintance with the details of the history. None of the
conspirators, except Robert Winter, who was captured at Hagley Hall,
were taken in concealment, and none at Hendlip, where there is no reason
to suppose they ever were. Father Garnet was discovered there, nearly
three months later, in company with another Jesuit, Father Oldcorne, on
the very day when the conspirators were executed in London, and it was
never alleged that he had ever, upon any occasion, been seen in company
with "the other conspirators."

[33] _History_, i. 255, note.



AT the period with which we have to deal the chief minister of James I.
was Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury,[34] the political heir of his
father, William Cecil, Lord Burghley,[35] and of Walsingham, his
predecessor in the office of secretary. It is clear that he had
inherited from them ideas of statesmanship of the order then in vogue,
and from nature, the kind of ability required to put these successfully
in practice. Sir Robert Naunton thus describes him:[36]

"This great minister of state, and the staff of the Queen's declining
age, though his little crooked person[37] could not provide any great
supportation, yet it carried thereon a head and a headpiece of vast
content, and therein, it seems, nature was so diligent to complete one,
and the best, part about him, as that to the perfection of his memory
and intellectuals, she took care also of his senses, and to put him in
_Lynceos oculos_, or to pleasure him the more, borrowed of Argus, so to
give him a perfective sight. And for the rest of his sensitive virtues,
his predecessor had left him a receipt, to smell out what was done in
the Conclave; and his good old father was so well seen in the
mathematicks, as that he could tell you throughout Spain, every part,
every ship, with their burthens, whither bound, what preparation, what
impediments for diversion of enterprises, counsels, and resolutions."
The writer then proceeds to give a striking instance to show "how
docible was this little man."

Of his character, as estimated by competent judges, his contemporaries,
we have very different accounts. Mr. Gardiner, who may fairly be chosen
to represent his apologists, speaks thus:[38]

"Although there are circumstances in his life which tell against him, it
is difficult to read the whole of the letters and documents which have
come down to us from his pen, without becoming gradually convinced of
his honesty of intention. It cannot be denied that he was satisfied with
the ordinary morality of his time, and that he thought it no shame to
keep a State secret or to discover a plot by means of a falsehood. If he
grasped at power as one who took pleasure in the exercise of it, he used
it for what he regarded as the true interests of his king and country.
Nor are we left to his own acts and words as the only means by which we
are enabled to form a judgment of his character. Of all the statesmen of
the day, not one has left a more blameless character than the Earl of
Dorset. Dorset took the opportunity of leaving upon record in his will,
which would not be read till he had no longer injury or favour to expect
in this world, the very high admiration in which his colleague was held
by him."

This, it must be allowed, is a somewhat facile species of argument.
Though wills are not formally opened until after the testators' deaths,
it is not impossible for their contents to be previously communicated to
others, when there is an object for so doing.[39] But, however this may
be, it can scarcely be said that the weight of evidence tends in this
direction. Not to mention the fact that, while enjoying the entire
confidence of Queen Elizabeth, Cecil was engaged in a secret
correspondence with King James, which she would have regarded as
treasonable--and which he so carefully concealed that for a century
afterwards and more it was not suspected--there remains the other
indubitable fact, that while similarly trusted by James, and while all
affairs of State were entirely in his hands, he was in receipt of a
secret pension from the King of Spain,[40] the very monarch any
communication with whom he treated as treason on the part of others.[41]
It is certain that the Earl of Essex, when on his trial, asserted that
Cecil had declared the Spanish Infanta to be the rightful heir to the
crown, and though the secretary vehemently denied the imputation, he
equally repudiated the notion that he favoured the King of Scots.[42] We
know, moreover, that one who as Spanish Ambassador had dealings with
him, pronounced him to be a venal traitor, who was ready to sell his
soul for money,[43] while another intimated[44] that it was in his
power to have charged him with "unwarrantable practices." Similarly, we
hear from the French minister of the ingrained habit of falsehood which
made it impossible for the English secretary to speak the truth even to
friends;[45] and, from the French Ambassador, of the resolution imputed
to the same statesman, to remove from his path every rival who seemed
likely to jeopardize his tenure of power.[46]

What was the opinion of his own countrymen, appeared with startling
emphasis when, in 1612, the Earl died. On May 22nd we find the Earl of
Northampton writing to Rochester that the "little man" is dead, "for
which so many rejoice, and so few even seem to be sorry."[47] Five days
later, Chamberlain, writing[48] to his friend Dudley Carleton, to
announce the same event, thus expresses himself: "As the case stands it
was best that he gave over the world, for they say his friends fell from
him apace, and some near about him, and however he had fared with his
health, it is verily thought he would never have been himself again in
power and credit. I never knew so great a man so soon and so openly
censured, for men's tongues walk very liberally and freely, but how
truly I cannot judge." On June 25th he again reports: "The outrageous
speeches against the deceased Lord continue still, and there be fresh
libels come out every day, and I doubt his actions will be hardly
censured in the next parliament, if the King be not the more gracious to
repress them." Moreover, his funeral was attended by few or none of the
gentry, and those only were present whose official position compelled
them. His own opinion Chamberlain expresses in two epigrams and an
anagram, which, although of small literary merit, contrive clearly to
express the most undisguised animosity and contempt for the late

There is abundant proof that such sentiments were not first entertained
when he had passed away, though, naturally, they were less openly
expressed when he was alive and practically all powerful. Cecil seems,
in fact, to have been throughout his career a lonely man, with no real
friends and many enemies, desperately fighting for his own hand, and for
the retention of that power which he prized above all else, aspiring, as
a contemporary satirist puts it, to be "both shepherd and dog."[50]
Since the accession of James he had felt his tenure of office to be
insecure. Goodman tells us[51] that "it is certain the king did not love
him;" Osborne,[52] "that he had forfeited the love of the people by the
hate he expressed to their darling Essex, and the desire he had to
render justice and prerogative arbitrary."[53] Sir Anthony Weldon speaks
of him[54] as "Sir Robert Cecil, a very wise man, but much hated in
England by reason of the fresh bleeding of that universally beloved Earl
of Essex, and for that clouded also in the king's favour." De la
Boderie, the French Ambassador, tells us[55] that the nobility were
exceedingly jealous of his dignity and power, and[56] that he in his
turn was jealous of the growing influence of Prince Henry, the heir
apparent, who made no secret of his dislike of him. Meanwhile there were
rivals who, it seemed not improbable, might supplant him. One of these,
Sir Walter Raleigh, had already been rendered harmless on account of his
connection with the "Main," the mysterious conspiracy which inaugurated
the reign of James. There remained the Earl of Northumberland, and it
may be remarked in passing that one of the effects of the Gunpowder Plot
was to dispose of him likewise.[57] Even the apologists of the minister
do not attempt to deny either the fact that he was accustomed to work by
stratagems and disguises, nor the obloquy that followed on his
death;[58] while by friends and foes alike he was compared to Ulysses of
many wiles.[59]

But amongst those whom he had to dread, there can be no doubt that the
members of the Catholic party appeared to the secretary the most
formidable. It was known on all hands, nor did he attempt to disguise
the fact, that he was the irreconcilable opponent of any remission of
the penal laws enacted for the purpose of stamping out the old
faith.[60] The work, however, had as yet been very incompletely done. At
the beginning of the reign of King James, the Catholics formed at least
a half, probably a majority,[61] of the English people. There were
amongst them many noblemen, fitted to hold offices of State. Moreover,
the king, who before his accession had unquestionably assured the
Catholics at least of toleration,[62] showed at his first coming a
manifest disposition to relieve them from the grievous persecution under
which they had groaned so long.[63] He remitted a large part of the
fines which had so grievously pressed upon all recusants, declaring that
he would not make merchandise of conscience, nor set a price upon
faith;[64] he invited to his presence leading Catholics from various
parts of the country, assuring them, and bidding them assure their
co-religionists, of his gracious intentions in their regard;[65] titles
of honour and lucrative employments were bestowed on some of their
number;[66] one professed Catholic, Henry Howard, presently created Earl
of Northampton, being enrolled in the Privy Council; and in the first
speech which he addressed to his Parliament James declared that, as to
the papists, he had no desire to persecute them, especially those of the
laity who would be quiet.[67] The immediate effect of this milder
policy was to afford evidence of the real strength of the Catholics,
many now openly declaring themselves who had previously conformed to the
State church. In the diocese of Chester alone the number of Catholics
was increased by a thousand.[68]

It is scarcely to be wondered at that men who were familiar with the
political methods of the age should see in all this a motive sufficient
to explain a great stroke for the destruction of those who appeared to
be so formidable, devised by such a minister as was then in power, "the
statesman," writes Lord Castlemaine,[69] "who bore (as everybody knew) a
particular hatred to all of our profession, and this increased to hear
his Majesty speak a little in his first speech to the two Houses against
persecution of papists, whereas there had been nothing within those
walls but invectives and defamations for above forty years together."

This much is certain, that, whatever its origin, the Gunpowder Plot
immensely increased Cecil's influence and power, and, for a time, even
his popularity, assuring the success of that anti-Catholic policy with
which he was identified.[70]

Of no less importance is it to understand the position of the Catholic
body, and the character of the particular Catholics who engaged in this
enterprise. We have seen with what hopes the advent of King James had
been hailed by those who had suffered so much for his mother's sake, and
who interpreted in a too sanguine and trustful spirit his own words and
deeds. Their dream of enjoying even toleration at his hands was soon
rudely dispelled. After giving them the briefest of respites, the
monarch, under the influence, as all believed, of his council, and
especially of his chief minister,[71] suddenly reversed his line of
action and persecuted his Catholic subjects more cruelly than had his
predecessor, calling up the arrears of fines which they fancied had been
altogether remitted, ruining many in the process who had hitherto
contrived to pay their way,[72] and adding to the sense of injury which
such a course necessarily provoked by farming out wealthy recusants to
needy courtiers, "to make their profit of," in particular to the Scots
who had followed their royal master across the border. Soon it was
announced that the king would have blood; all priests were ordered to
leave the realm under pain of death, and the searches for them became
more frequent and violent than ever. In no long time, as Goodman tells
us,[73] "a gentlewoman was hanged only for relieving and harbouring a
priest; a citizen was hanged only for being reconciled to the Church of
Rome; besides the penal laws were such and so executed that they could
not subsist." Father Gerard says:[74] "This being known to Catholics, it
is easy to be seen how first their hopes were turned into fears, and
then their fears into full knowledge that all the contrary to that they
had hoped was intended and prepared for them", and, as one of the victims
of these proceedings wrote, "the times of Elizabeth, although most
cruel, were the mildest and happiest in comparison with those of King

In such circumstances, the Catholic body being so numerous as it was, it
is not to be wondered at that individuals should be found, who, smarting
under their injuries, and indignant at the bad faith of which they
considered themselves the dupes, looked to violent remedies for relief,
and might without difficulty be worked upon to that effect. Their case
seemed far more hopeless than ever. Queen Elizabeth's quarrel with Rome
had been in a great degree personal; and moreover, as she had no direct
heir, it was confidently anticipated that the demise of the crown would
introduce a new era. King James's proceedings, on the other hand, seemed
to indicate a deliberate policy which there was no prospect of
reversing, especially as his eldest son, should he prove true to his
promise, might be expected to do that zealously, and of himself, which
his father was held to do under the constraint of others.[76] As Sir
Everard Digby warned Cecil, in the remarkable letter which he addressed
to him on the subject:[77] "If your Lordship and the State think fit to
deal severely with the Catholics, within brief space there will be
massacres, rebellions, and desperate attempts against the King and the
State. For it is a general received reason among Catholics, that there
is not that expecting and suffering course now to be run that was in the
Queen's time, who was the last of her line, and last in expectance to
run violent courses against Catholics; for then it was hoped that the
King that now is, would have been at least free from persecuting, as his
promise was before his coming into this realm, and as divers his
promises have been since his coming. All these promises every man sees

It must likewise be remembered that if stratagems and "practices" were
the recognized weapons of ministers, turbulence and arms were, at this
period, the familiar, and indeed the only, resource of those in
opposition, nor did any stigma attach to their employment unless taken
up on the losing side. Not a little of this kind of thing had been done
on behalf of James himself. As is well known, he succeeded to the throne
by a title upon which he could not have recovered at law an acre of
land.[79] Elizabeth had so absolutely forbidden all discussion of the
question of the succession as to leave it in a state of utter
confusion.[80] There were more than a dozen possible competitors, and
amongst these the claim of the King of Scots was technically not the
strongest, for though nearest in blood his claims had been barred by a
special Act of Parliament, excluding the Scottish line. As Professor
Thorold Rogers says, "For a year after his accession James, if Acts of
Parliament are to go for anything, was not legally King."[81]

Nevertheless the cause of James was vigorously taken up in all
directions, and promoted by means which might well have been styled
treason against the authority of Parliament. Thus, old Sir Thomas
Tresham, father of Francis Tresham, the Gunpowder Conspirator, who had
been an eminent sufferer for his religion, at considerable personal
risk, and against much resistance on the part of the local magistrates
and the populace, publicly proclaimed the new king at Northampton, while
Francis Tresham himself and his brother Lewis, with Lord Monteagle,
their brother-in-law, supported the Earl of Southampton in holding the
Tower of London on his behalf.[82] In London indeed everybody took to
arms as soon as the queen's illness had been known; watch and ward were
kept in the City; rich men brought their plate and treasure from the
country, and placed them where they would be safest,[83] and the
approaches were guarded. Cecil himself related in open court, in praise
of the Londoners, how, when he himself, attended by most of the peers
and privy councillors of the kingdom, wished to enter the City to
proclaim the new sovereign, they found the gates closed against them
till they had publicly declared that they were about to proclaim James
and no one else.[84]

In times when statesmen could approve such methods of political action,
it was inevitable that violent enterprises should have come to be
considered the natural resource of those out of power, and it is very
clear that there were numerous individuals, of whom no one party had the
monopoly, who were ready at any moment to risk everything for the cause
they served, and such men, although their proclivities were well known,
did not suffer much in public esteem.

The Gunpowder Conspirators were eminently men of this stamp, and
notoriously so. So well was their character known, that when, in 1596,
eight years before the commencement of the Plot, Queen Elizabeth had
been unwell, the Lords of the Council, as a precautionary measure
arrested some of the principal amongst them, Catesby, the two Wrights,
Tresham, and others, as being persons who would certainly give trouble
should a chance occur.[85] Since that time they had not improved their
record. All those above-named, as well as Thomas Winter, Christopher
Wright, Percy, Grant, and perhaps others, had been engaged in the
ill-starred rebellion of Essex, on which occasion Catesby was wounded,
and both he and Tresham came remarkably near being hanged.[86] They had
likewise been variously implicated in all the seditious attempts which
had since been made--Catesby and Tresham being named by Sir Edward Coke
as being engaged with Watson in the "Bye." Thomas Winter, Christopher
Wright, and Faukes, had, if we may believe the same authority, been sent
to Spain on treasonable embassies.[87] Grant made himself very
conspicuous by frequently resisting the officers of the law when they
appeared to search his house.[88] John Wright and Percy had, at least
till a very recent period, been notorious bravoes, who made a point of
picking a quarrel with any man who was reported to be a good swordsman,
they being both expert with the weapon.[89]

It is evident that men of this stamp were not unlikely to prove restive
under such treatment as was meted out to the Catholics, from which
moreover, as gentlemen, they themselves suffered in a special degree.
Lord Castlemaine remarks that loose people may usually be drawn into a
plot when statesmen lay gins, and that it was no hard thing for a
Secretary of State, should he desire any such thing, to know of
turbulent and ambitious spirits to be his unconscious instruments,[90]
and it is obvious that no great perspicacity would have been required to
fix upon those who had given such evidence of their disposition as had
these men.

It must, at the same time, be confessed that the character of the
plotters is one of the most perplexing features of the Plot. The crime
contemplated was without parallel in its brutal and senseless atrocity.
There had, it is true, been powder-plots before, notably that which had
effected the destruction of the king's own father, Lord Darnley, a fact
undoubtedly calculated to make much impression upon the timorous mind
of James. But what marked off our Gunpowder Plot from all others, was
the wholesale and indiscriminate slaughter in which it must have
resulted, and the absence of any possibility that the cause could be
benefited which the conspirators had at heart. It was at once reprobated
and denounced by the Catholics of England, and by the friends and near
relatives of the conspirators themselves.[91] It might be supposed that
those who undertook such an enterprise were criminals of the deepest
dye, and ruffians of a more than usually repulsive type. In spite,
however, of the turbulent element in their character of which we have
seen something, such a judgment would, in the opinion of historians, be
altogether erroneous. Far from their being utterly unredeemed villains,
it appears, in fact, that apart from the one monstrous transgression
which has made them infamous, they should be distinguished in the annals
of crime as the least disreputable gang of conspirators who ever plotted
a treason. On this point we have ample evidence from those who are by no
means their friends. "Atrocious as their whole undertaking was," writes
Mr. Gardiner,[92] "great as must have been the moral obliquity of their
minds before they could have conceived such a project, there was at
least nothing mean or selfish about them. They boldly risked their lives
for what they honestly believed to be the cause of God and of their
country. Theirs was a crime which it would never have entered into the
heart of any man to commit who was not raised above the low aims of the
ordinary criminal." Similarly Mr. Jardine, a still less friendly
witness, tells us[93] that "several at least of the conspirators were
men of mild and amiable manners, averse to tumults and bloodshed, and
dwelling quietly amidst the humanities of domestic life," a description
which he applies especially to Rokewood and Digby; while of Guy Faukes
himself he says[94] that, according to the accounts which we hear of
him, he is not to be regarded as a mercenary ruffian, ready for hire to
do any deed of blood; but as a zealot, misled by misguided fanaticism,
who was, however, by no means destitute either of piety or of humanity.
Moreover, as Mr. Jardine farther remarks, the conspirators as a body
were of the class which we should least expect to find engaged in
desperate enterprises, being, as Sir E. Coke described them, "gentlemen
of good houses, of excellent parts, and of very competent fortunes and
estates," none of them, except perhaps Catesby, being in pecuniary
difficulties, while several--notably Robert Winter, Rokewood, Digby,
Tresham, and Grant--were men of large possessions. It has also been
observed by a recent biographer of Sir Everard Digby,[95] that, for the
furtherance of their projects after the explosion, the confederates were
able to provide a sum equal at least to £75,000 of our money--a
sufficient proof of their worldly position.

That men of such a class should so lightly and easily have adopted a
scheme so desperate and atrocious as that of "murdering a kingdom in its
representatives," is undoubtedly not the least incomprehensible feature
of this strange story. At the same time it must not be forgotten that
there is another, and a very different account of these men, which comes
to us on the authority of a Catholic priest living in England at the
time,[96] who speaks of the conspirators as follows:

"They were a few wicked and desperate wretches, whom many Protestants
termed Papists, although the priests and the true Catholics knew them
not to be such.... They were never frequenters of Catholic Sacraments
with any priest, as I could ever learn; and, as all the Protestant
Courts will witness, not one of them was a convicted or known Catholic
or Recusant."[97]

Similarly Cornwallis, writing from Madrid,[98] reported that the king
and Estate of Spain were "much grieved that they being atheists and
devils in their inward parts, should paint their outside with

In view of evidence so contradictory, it is difficult, if not
impossible, to form a confident judgment as to the real character of
those whose history we are attempting to trace; but, leaving aside what
is matter of doubt, the undisputed facts of their previous career
appear to show unmistakably that they were just the men who would be
ready to look to violence for a remedy of existing evils, and to whom it
would not be difficult to suggest its adoption.


[34] When James came to the throne Cecil was but a knight. He was
created Baron Cecil of Essendon, May 13th, 1603; Viscount Cranborne,
August 20th, 1604; Earl of Salisbury, May 4th, 1605.

[35] Robert, as the second son, did not succeed to his father's title,
which devolved upon Thomas, the eldest, who was created Earl of Exeter
on the same day on which Robert became Earl of Salisbury.

[36] _Fragmenta Regalia_, 37. Ed. 1642.

[37] He was but little above five feet in height, and, in the phrase of
the time, a "Crouchback." King James, who was not a man of much delicacy
in such matters, was fond of giving him nicknames in consequence. Cecil
wrote to Sir Thomas Lake, October 24th, 1605: "I see nothing y^t I can
doe, can procure me so much favor, as to be sure one whole day what
title I shall have another. For from Essenden to Cranborne, from
Cranborne to Salisbury, from Salisbury to Beagle, from Beagle to Thom
Derry, from Thom Derry to Parret which I hate most, I have been so
walked, as I think by y^t I come to Theobalds, I shall be called Tare or
Sophie." (R.O. _Dom. James I._ xv. 105.)

[38] _History_, i. 92.

[39] In the same document James I. is spoken of as "the most judycious,
learned, and rareste kinge, that ever this worlde produced." (R.O.
_Dom. James I._ xxviii. 29.)

[40] Digby to the King, S. P., _Spain_, Aug. 8. Gardiner, _History_, ii.

[41] At the trial of Essex, Cecil exclaimed, "I pray God to consume me
where I stand, if I hate not the Spaniard as much as any man living."
(Bruce, _Introduction to Secret Correspondence of Sir R. Cecil_,

Of the Spanish pension Mr. Gardiner, after endeavouring to show that
originally Cecil's acceptance of it may have been comparatively
innocent, thus continues (_History of England_, i. 216): "But it is
plain that, even if this is the explanation of his original intentions,
such a comparatively innocent connection with Spain soon extended itself
to something worse, and that he consented to furnish the ambassadors,
from time to time, with information on the policy and intentions of the
English Government.... Of the persistence with which he exacted payment
there can be no doubt whatever. Five years later, when the opposition
between the two governments became more decided, he asked for an
increase of his payments, and demanded that they should be made in large
sums as each piece of information was given."

At the same time it appears highly probable that he was similarly in the
pay of France. _Ibid._

[42] Queen Elizabeth regarded as treasonable any discussion of the
question of the succession.

[43] Gardiner, i. 215.

[44] _Chamberlain to Carleton_, July 9th, 1612, R.O.

[45] "Tout ce que vous a dit le Comte de Salisbury touchant le mariage
d'Espagne est rempli de deguisements et artifices à son accoutumée....
Toutefois, je ne veux pas jurer qu'ils négocient plus sincerement et de
meilleur foi avec lesdites Espagnols qu'avec nous. Ils corromproient par
trop leur naturel, s'ils le faisoient, pour des gens qui ne leur
scauroient guère de gré."--Le Fèvre de la Boderie, _Ambassade_, i. 170.

[46] (Of the Earl of Northumberland.) "On tient le Comte de Salisbury
pour principal auteur de sa persécution, comme celui qui veut ne laisser
personne en pied qui puisse lui faire tête." De la Boderie. _Ibid._ 178.

[47] R.O. _Dom. James I._ lxix. 56.

[48] _Ibid._, May 27, 1612. Bishop Goodman, no enemy of Cecil, is
inclined to believe that at the time of the secretary's death there was
a warrant out for his arrest. _Court of King James_, i. 45.

[49] The first of these epigrams, in Latin, concludes thus:

    Sero, Recurve, moreris sed serio;
    Sero, jaces (bis mortuus) sed serio:
    Sero saluti publicæ, serio tuæ.

The second is in English:

    Whiles two RR's, both crouchbacks, stood at the helm,
    The one spilt the blood royall, the other the realm.

A marginal note explains that these were, "Richard Duke of Gloster, and
Robert Earl of Salisburie;" the anagram, of which title is "A silie
burs." He also styles the late minister a monkey (_cercopithecus_) and
hobgoblin (_empusa_).

[50] Osborne, _Traditional Memoirs_, p. 236 (ed. 1811).

[51] _Court of King James_, i. 44.

[52] _Traditional Memoirs_, 181.

[53] This feeling was expressed in lampoons quoted by Osborne, e.g.:

    "Here lies Hobinall, our pastor while here,
    That once in a quarter our fleeces did sheare.
    For oblation to Pan his custom was thus,
    He first gave a trifle, then offer'd up us:
    And through his false worship such power he did gaine,
    As kept him o' th' mountain, and us on the plaine."

Again, he is described as

    "Little bossive Robin that was so great,
    Who seemed as sent from ugly fate,
    To spoyle the prince, and rob the state,
    Owning a mind of dismall endes,
    As trappes for foes, and tricks for friends."

    (_Ibid._ 236.)

Oldmixon (_History of Queen Elizabeth_, p. 620) says of the Earl of
Essex, "'Twas not likely that Cecil, whose Soul was of a narrow Size,
and had no Room for enlarged Sentiments of Ambition, Glory, and Public
Spirit, should cease to undermine a Hero, in comparison with whom he was
both in Body and Mind a Piece of Deformity, if there's nothing beautiful
in Craft."

[54] _Court and Character of King James_, § 10.

[55] _Ambassade_, i. 58.

[56] _Ibid._ 401.

[57] Against Northumberland nothing was proved (_vide_ de la Boderie,
_Ambassade_, i. 178), except that he had admitted Thomas Percy amongst
the royal pensioners without exacting the usual oath. He in vain
demanded an open trial, but was prosecuted in the Star Chamber, and
there sentenced to a fine of £30,000 (equal to at least ten times that
sum in our money), and to be imprisoned for life.

Mr. Gardiner considers that, in regard both of Raleigh and of
Northumberland, Cecil acted with great moderation. It must, however, be
remembered that in his secret correspondence with King James, before the
death of the queen, he had strenuously endeavoured to poison the mind of
that monarch against these his rivals. Thus he wrote, December 4th, 1601
(as usual through Lord Henry Howard): "You must remember that I gave you
notice of the diabolical triplicity, that is, Cobham, Raleigh, and
Northumberland, that met every day at Durham-house, where Raleigh lies,
in consultation, which awaked all the best wits of the town ... to watch
what chickens they could hatch out of these cockatrice eggs that were
daily and nightly sitten on." (_Secret Correspondence of Sir Robert
Cecil with James VI., King of Scotland_, Edinburgh, 1766, p. 29.) Coming
after this, the speedy ruin of all these men appears highly suspicious.

[58] Sir Walter Cope in his _Apology_ (Gutch, _Collectanea Curiosa_, i.
No. 10) says: "When living, the world observed with all admiration and
applause; no sooner dead, but it seeketh finally to suppress his
excellent parts, and load his memory with all imputations of

Among such charges are enumerated "His Falsehood in Friendship.--That he
often made his friends fair promises, and underhand laid rubs to hinder
their preferment.--The secret passage of things I know not.... Great
Counsellors have their private and their publique ends...." etc.

[59] Lord Castlemaine after mentioning the chief features of the
Gunpowder Plot, goes on: "But let it not displease you, if we ask
whether Ulysses be no better known?" (_Catholique Apology_, p. 30.)

Francis Herring in his Latin poem, _Pietas Pontificia_ (published 1606),
speaking of Monteagle (called "Morleius," from his father's title), who
took the celebrated letter to Cecil, writes thus:

    "Morleius Regis de consultoribus unum,
    (Quem norat veteri nil quicquam cedere Ulyssi,
    Juditio pollentem acri, ingenioque sagaci)
    Seligit, atque illi Rem totam ex ordine pandit."

[60] This is so evident that it appears unnecessary to occupy space with
proofs in detail. De la Boderie remarks (_Ambassade_, i. 71) on the
extraordinary rancour of the minister against Catholics, and especially
against Jesuits, and that "he wishes to destroy them everywhere." Of
this a remarkable confirmation is afforded by the instructions given to
Sir Thomas Parry when he was sent as ambassador, "Leiger," to Paris, in
1603, at the head of which stood these extraordinary articles:

1. "To intimate to the French king the jealousy conceived in England
upon the revocation of the Jesuits, against former edicts.

2. "To inform the French king that the English were disgusted at the
maintenance allowed to the French king's prelates and clergy, to priests
and Jesuits that passed out of his dominions into England, Scotland, and
Ireland, to do bad offices." (P.R.O. _France_, bundle 132, f. 314.)

[61] Jardine, _Gunpowder Plot_, p. 5. Strype says of the time of
Elizabeth: "The faction of the Catholics in England is great, and able,
if the kingdom were divided into three parts, to make two of them."
(_Annals_, iii. 313, quoted by Butler, _Historical Memoirs_, ii. 177.)

At the execution of Father Oldcorne, 1606, a proof was given of their
numbers which is said to have alarmed the king greatly. The Father
having from the scaffold invited all Catholics to pray with him, almost
all present uncovered.

[62] Of this there can be no doubt, in spite of James's subsequent
denial. Father Garnet wrote to Parsons (April 16th, 1603): "There hath
happened a great alteration by the death of the Queen. Great fears were,
but all are turned into greatest security, and a golden time we have of
unexpected freedom abroade.... The Catholicks have great cause to hope
for great respect, in that the nobility all almost labour for it, and
have good promise thereof from his Majesty." (Stonyhurst MSS. _Anglia_,
iii. 32.)

Goodman says: "And certainly they [the Catholics] had very great
promises from him." (_Court of King James_, i. 86.)

[63] "The Penal Laws, a code as savage as any that can be conceived
since the foundation of the world."--Lord Chief Justice Coleridge. (_To
Lord Mayor Knill_, Nov. 9, 1892.)

[64] Gardiner, i. 100.

[65] Jardine, _Gunpowder Plot_, 18.

[66] _Ibid._ 20.

[67] Gardiner, i. 166.

[68] Green, _History of the English People_, iii. 62. Mr. Green adds:
"Rumours of Catholic conversions spread a panic which showed itself in
an Act of the Parliament of 1604 confirming the statutes of Elizabeth;
and to this James gave his assent. He promised, indeed, that the statute
should remain inoperative." In May, 1604, the Catholics boasted that
they had been joined by 10,000 converts. (Gardiner, _Hist_. i. 202.)

[69] _Catholique Apology_, 404.

[70] Salisbury, in reward of his services on this occasion, received the
Garter, May 20th, 1606, and was honoured on the occasion with an almost
regal triumph.

Of the proceedings subsequent to the Plot we are told: "In passing these
laws for the security of the Protestant Religion, the Earl of Salisbury
exerted himself with distinguished zeal and vigour, which gained him
great love and honour from the kingdom, as appeared in some measure, in
the universal attendance on him at his installation with the Order of
the Garter, on the 20th of May, 1606, at Windsor." (Birch, _Historical
View_, p. 256.)

[71] This belief is so notorious that one instance must suffice as
evidence for it. A paper of informations addressed to Cecil himself,
April, 1604, declares that the Catholics hoped to see a good day yet,
and that "his Majesty would suffer a kinde of Tolleracyon, for his
inclynacyon is good, howsoever the Councell set out his speeches."
(S.P.O. _Dom. James I._ vii. 86.)

[72] Mr. Gardiner (_Hist._ i. 229, note) says that arrears were never
demanded in the case of the fine of £20 per lunar month for
non-attendance at the parish church. Father Gerard, however, a
contemporary witness, distinctly states that they were. (_Narrative of
the Gunpowder Plot_, ed. Morris, p. 62.)

[73] _Court of King James_, i. 100.

[74] _Narrative_, p. 46.

[75] Stonyhurst MSS., _Anglia_, iii. 103.

[76] Of the Prince of Wales it was prophesied:

    "The eighth Henry did pull down Monks and their cells,
    The ninth will pull down Bishops and their bells."

[77] Concerning this letter see Appendix B, _Digby's Letter to

[78] R.O. _Dom. James I._ xvii. 10.

[79] Hallam, _Constitutional Hist._ i. 392 (3rd ed.).

[80] See Appendix C, _The Question of Succession_.

[81] _Agriculture and Prices_, v. 5.

[82] Jardine, _Gunpowder Plot_, p. 17.

[83] Gardiner, _Hist._ i. 84.

[84] Trial of Father Garnet (Cobbett's _State Trials_, ii. 243).

[85] Camden, the historian, to Sir R. Cotton, March 15th, 1596. (Birch,
_Original Letters_, 2nd series, iii. p. 179.) Various writers
erroneously suppose this transaction to have occurred in March, 1603, on
occasion of Elizabeth's last illness. The correct date, 1596, given by
Sir Henry Ellis, is supplied by a statement contained in the letter,
that this was her Majesty's "climacterick year," that is, her
sixty-third, this number, as the multiple of the potent factors seven
and nine, being held of prime importance in human life. Elizabeth was
born in 1533.

From Garnet's examination of March 14th, 1605-6 (_Dom. James I._ xix.
44), we learn that Catesby was at large at the time of the queen's

For Cecil's description of the men, see Winwood's _Memorials_, ii. 172.

[86] Catesby purchased his life for a fine of 4,000 marks, and Tresham
of 3,000. Mr. Jessopp says that the former sum is equivalent at least to
£30,000 at the present day. (_Dict. Nat. Biog., Catesby_.)

[87] But see Appendix D, _The Spanish Treason_.

[88] Father Gerard says of him that "he paid them [the pursuivants] so
well for their labour not with crowns of gold, but with cracked crowns
sometimes, and with dry blows instead of drink and other good cheer,
that they durst not visit him any more unless they brought store of help
with them." (_Narrative of the Gunpowder Plot_, p. 86.)

[89] _Ibid._, p. 57.

[90] _Catholique Apology_, p. 403.

[91] _E.g._, by Mr. Talbot of Grafton, father-in-law of Robert Winter,
who drove their envoys away with threats and reproaches (Jardine,
_Gunpowder Plot_, p. 112), and by Sir Robert Digby, of Coleshill, cousin
to Sir Everard, who assisted in taking prisoners. (R.O. _Gunpowder Plot
Book_, 42.)

[92] _History_, i. 263.

[93] _Gunpowder Plot_, p. 151.

[94] _Ibid._, p. 38.

[95] _Life of a Conspirator, by one of his Descendants_, p. 150.

[96] _English Protestants' Plea and Petition for English Priests and
Papists._ The author of this book (published 1621) describes himself as
a priest who has been for many years on the English mission. His title
indicates that he draws his arguments from Protestant sources.

[97] P. 56.

[98] November 25th, 1605, _Stowe MSS._ 168, 61.



WE have now for so long a period been accustomed to accept the official
story regarding the Gunpowder Plot, that most readers will be surprised
to hear that at the time of its occurrence, and for more than a century
afterwards, there were, to say the least, many intelligent men who took
for granted that in some way or other the actual conspirators were but
the dupes and instruments of more crafty men than themselves, and in
their mad enterprise unwittingly played the game of ministers of State.

From the beginning the government itself anticipated this, as is
evidenced by the careful and elaborate account of the whole
affair drawn up on the 7th of November, 1605--two days after the
"discovery"--seemingly for the benefit of the Privy Council.[99] This
important document, which is in the handwriting of Levinus Munck,
Cecil's secretary, with numerous and significant emendations from the
hand of Cecil himself, speaks, amongst other things, of the need of
circumspection, "considering how apt the world is nowadays to think all
providence and intelligences to be but practices." The result did not
falsify the expectation. Within five weeks we find a letter written from
London to a correspondent abroad,[100] wherein it is said: "Those that
have practical experience of the way in which things are done, hold it
as certain that there has been foul play, and that some of the Council
secretly spun the web to entangle these poor gentlemen, as did Secretary
Walsingham in other cases," and it is clear that the writer has but
recorded an opinion widely prevalent. To this the government again bear
witness, for they found it advisable to issue an official version of the
history, in the _True and Perfect Relation_, and the _Discourse of the
Manner of the Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot_, the appearance of which
was justified expressly on the ground that "there do pass from hand to
hand divers uncertain, untrue, and incoherent reports and relations,"
and that it is very important "for men to understand the birth and
growth of the said abominable and detestable conspiracy." The accounts
published with this object are, by the common consent of historians,
flagrantly untruthful and untrustworthy.[101] We likewise find
Secretary Cecil writing to instruct Sir E. Coke, the Attorney-General,
as to his conduct of the case against the conspirators, in view of the
"lewd" reports current in regard of the manner in which it had been
discovered.[102] The same minister, in the curious political manifesto
which he issued in connection with the affair,[103] again bears witness
to the same effect, when he declares that the papists, after the manner
of Nero, were throwing the blame of their crime upon others.

Clearly, however, it was not to the papists alone that such an
explanation commended itself. The Puritan Osborne[104] speaks of the
manner in which the "discovery" was managed as "a neat device of the
Treasurer's, he being very plentiful in such plots." Goodman, Anglican
Bishop of Gloucester, another contemporary, is even more explicit. After
describing the indignation of the Catholics when they found themselves
deceived in their hopes at the hands of James, he goes on: "The great
statesman had intelligence of all this, and because he would show his
service to the State, he would first contrive and then discover a
treason, and the more odious and hateful the treason were, his service
would be the greater and the more acceptable."[105] Another notable
witness is quoted by the Jesuit Father Martin Grene, in a letter to his
brother Christopher, January 1st, 1665-6:[106] "I have heard strange
things, which, if ever I can make out, will be very pertinent: for
certain, the late Bishop of Armagh, Usher, was divers times heard to
say, that if papists knew what he knew, the blame of the Gunpowder
Treason would not lie on them." In like manner we find it frequently
asserted on the authority of Lord Cobham and others,[107] that King
James himself, when he had time to realize the truth of the matter, was
in the habit of speaking of the Fifth of November as "Cecil's holiday."

Such a belief must have been widely entertained, otherwise it could not
have been handed on, as it was, for generations. It is not too much to
say that historians for almost a century and a half, if they did not
themselves favour the theory of the government's complicity, at least
bore witness how widely that idea prevailed. Thus, to confine ourselves
at present to Protestant writers, Sanderson,[108] acknowledging that the
secretary was accused of having manipulated the transaction, says no
word to indicate that he repudiates such a charge. Welwood[109] is of
opinion that Cecil was aware of the Plot long before the "discovery,"
and that the famous letter to Monteagle was "a contrivance of his own."
Oldmixon writes[110] "notwithstanding the general joy, ... there were
some who insinuated that the Plot was of the King's own making, or that
he was privy to it from first to last." Carte[111] does not believe that
James knew anything of it, but considers it "not improbable" that Cecil
was better informed. Burnet[112] complains of the impudence of the
papists of his day, who denied the conspiracy, and pretended it was an
artifice of the minister's "to engage some desperate men into a plot,
which he managed so that he could discover it when he pleased."
Fuller[113] bears witness to the general belief, but considers it
inconsistent with the well-known piety of King James. Bishop Kennet, in
his Fifth of November sermon at St. Paul's, in 1715, talks in a similar
strain. So extreme, indeed, does the incredulity and uncertainty appear
to have been, that the Puritan Prynne[114] is inclined to suspect
Bancroft, the Archbishop of Canterbury, of having been engaged in the
conspiracy; while one of the furious zealots who followed the lead of
Titus Oates, mournfully testified that there were those in his day who
looked upon the Powder Treason "as upon a romantic story, or a politic
invention, or a State trick," giving no more credence to it than to the
histories of the "Grand Cyrus, or Guy of Warwick, or Amadis de
Gaul,"--or, as we should now say, Jack the Giant Killer.

The general scope and drift of such suspicions are well indicated by
Bevil Higgons, "This impious design," he writes[115] of the Plot, "gave
the greatest blow to the Catholic interest in England, by rendering that
religion so odious to the people. The common opinion concerning the
discovery of the Plot, by a letter to the Lord Mounteagle, has not been
universally allowed to be the real truth of the matter, for some have
affirmed that this design was first hammered in the forge of Cecil, who
intended to have produced this plot in the time of Queen Elizabeth, but
prevented by her death he resumed his project in this reign, with a
design to have so enraged the nation as to have expelled all Roman
Catholics, and confiscated their estates. To this end, by his secret
emissaries, he enticed some hot-headed men of that persuasion, who,
ignorant whence the design first came, heartily engaged in this
execrable Powder Treason.... Though this account should not be true," he
continues, "it is certain that the Court of England had notice of this
Plot from France and Italy long before the pretended discovery; upon
which Cecil ... framed that letter to the Lord Mounteagle, with a design
to make the discovery seem the more miraculous, and at the same time
magnify the judgment of the king, who by his deep penetration was to
have the honour of unravelling so ambiguous and dark a riddle."

It may be added that amongst modern historians who have given special
attention to this period, several, though repudiating the notion that
Cecil originated the Plot, are strongly of opinion that as to the
important episode of the "discovery," the traditional story is a
fabrication. Thus, Mr. Brewer[116] declares it to be quite certain that
Cecil had previous knowledge of the design, and that the "discovery" was
a fraud. Lodge[117] is of the same opinion, and so is the author of the
_Annals of England_.[118] Jardine[119] inclines to the belief that the
government contrived the letter to Monteagle in order to conceal the
means by which their information had in reality been obtained. Mr.
Gardiner, though dismissing the idea as "absurd," acknowledges that his
contemporaries accused Cecil of inventing the whole Plot.[120]

So much for the testimony of Protestants. As for those who had to suffer
in consequence of the affair, there is no need to multiply testimonies.
Lord Castlemaine tells us[121] that "the Catholics of England, who knew
Cecil's ways of acting and their own innocence, suspected him from the
beginning, as hundreds still alive can testify." Father Henry More,
S.J., a contemporary, speaks to the same effect.[122] Father John
Gerard, who was not only a contemporary, but one of those accused of
complicity, intimates[123] his utter disbelief of the official narrative
concerning the discovery, and his conviction that those who had the
scanning of the redoubtable letter were "well able in shorter time and
with fewer doubts to decipher a darker riddle and find out a greater
secret than that matter was." One Floyde, a spy, testified in 1615[124]
to having frequently heard various Jesuits say, that the government were
aware of the Plot several months before they thought fit to "discover"

The Catholic view is expressed with much point and force by an anonymous
writer of the eighteenth century:[125] "I shall touch briefly upon a few
particulars relating to this Plot, for the happy discovery whereof an
anniversary holiday has now been kept for above a hundred years. Is it
out of pure gratitude to God the nation is so particularly devout on
this occasion? If so, it is highly commendable: for we ought to thank
God for all things, and therefore I cannot deny but there is all the
reason in the world to give him solemn thanks, for that the king and
Parliament never were in any danger of being hurt by the Powder Plot....
I am far from denying the Gunpowder Plot. Nay, I believe as firmly that
Catesby, with twelve more popish associates, had a design to blow up K.
James, as I believe that the father of that same king was effectually
blown up by the Earls of Murray, Morton, Bothwell, and others of the
Reformed Church of Scotland. However ... I humbly conceive I may say the
king and Parliament were in no danger of being hurt by it, and my reason
is because they had not less a man than the prime minister of state for
their tutelar angel; a person deeply read in politics; who had inherited
the double spirit of his predecessor Walsingham, knew all his tricks of
legerdemain, and could as seasonably discover plots as contrive them....
This much at least is certain, that the letter written to my Lord
Mounteagle, by which the Plot was discovered, had not a fool, but a very
wise sophister for its author: for it was so craftily worded, that
though it was mysterious enough on the one hand to prevent a full
evidence that it was written on purpose to discover the Plot, yet it was
clear enough on the other to be understood with the help of a little
consideration, as the event soon showed. Indeed, when it was brought to
Secretary Cecil, he, poor gentleman, had not penetration enough to
understand the meaning of it, and said it was certainly written by a
madman. But there, I fear, he wronged himself. For the secretary was no
madman. On the contrary, he had too much wit to explain it himself, and
was too refined a politician to let slip so favourable an occasion of
making his court to the king, who was to have the compliment made him of
being the only Solomon wise enough to unfold this dark mystery. Which
while his Majesty was doing with a great deal of ease, the secretary was
all the while at his elbow admiring and applauding his wonderful
sagacity.... So that, in all probability, the same man was the chief
underhand contriver and discoverer of the Plot; and the greatest part of
the bubbles concerned in it were trapanned into it by one who took sure
care that none but themselves should be hurt by it.... But be that as it
will, there is no doubt but that they who suffer themselves to be drawn
into a plot like fools, deserve to be hanged for it like knaves."

The opinion of Dodd, the historian, has already been indicated, which in
another place he thus emphasizes and explains:[126] "Some persons in
chief power suspecting the king would be very indulgent to Catholics,
several stratagems were made use of to exasperate him against them, and
cherishing the Gunpowder Plot is thought to be a masterpiece in this

It would not be difficult to continue similar citations, but enough has
now been said to show that it is nothing new to charge the chief
minister of James I. with having fostered the conspiracy for his own
purposes, or even to have actually set it a-going. It appears perfectly
clear that from the first there were not a few, and those not Catholics
only, who entertained such a belief, and that the facts of the case are
inadequately represented by historians, who imply, like Mr. Jardine,
that such a theory was first broached long afterwards, and adopted by
Catholics alone.[128]

It is moreover apparent that if in recent times historians have
forgotten that such a view was ever held, or consider it too
preposterous for serious discussion, this is not because fuller
knowledge of the details of the conspiracy have discredited it. The
official version of the story has remained in possession of the field,
and it has gradually been assumed that this must substantially be true.
In consequence, as it seems, writers of history, approaching the subject
with this conviction, have failed to remark many points suggested even
by the documentary evidence at our disposal, and still more emphatically
by the recorded facts, which cannot but throw grave doubt upon almost
every particular of the traditional account, while making it impossible
to believe that, as to what is most essential, the Plot was in reality
what has for so long been supposed. That long before the "discovery" the
Plot must have been, and in fact was, known to the government; that this
knowledge was artfully dissimulated, in order to make political capital
out of it; that for the same purpose the sensational circumstances of
its discovery were deliberately arranged; and that there are grave
reasons for suspecting the beginnings of the desperate enterprise, as
well as its catastrophe, to have been dexterously manipulated for State
purposes;--such are the conclusions, the evidence for which will now be


[99] _Gunpowder Plot Book_, 129. Printed in _Archæologia_, xii. 202*.

[100] R.O. _Roman Transcripts_ (Bliss), No. 86, December 10th, 1605

[101] Mr. Jardine writes (_Criminal Trials_, ii. p. 235), "_The True and
Perfect Relation_ ... is certainly not deserving of the character which
its title imports. It is not _true_, because many occurrences on the
trial are wilfully misrepresented; and it is not _perfect_, because the
whole evidence, and many facts and circumstances which must have
happened, are omitted, and incidents are inserted which could not by
possibility have taken place on the occasion. It is obviously a false
and imperfect relation of the proceedings; a tale artfully garbled and
misrepresented, like many others of the same age, to serve a State
purpose, and intended and calculated to mislead the judgment of the
world upon the facts of the case." Of the _Discourse_ he speaks in
similar terms. (_Ibid._, p. 4.)

[102] R.O. _Dom. James I._ xix. 94. Printed by Jardine, _Criminal
Trials_, ii. 120 (note).

[103] _Answere to certaine Scandalous Papers, scattered abroad under
colour of a Catholic Admonition._ (Published in January, 1605-6.)

[104] _Traditional Memoirs_, 36. Of this writer Lord Castlemaine says,
"He was born before this plot, and was also an inquisitive man, a
frequenter of company, of a noted wit, of an excellent family, and as
Protestant a one as any in the whole nation."

[105] _Court of King James_ (1839), i. 102.

[106] Stonyhurst MSS., _Anglia_, v. 67.

[107] _E.g._, in the _Advocate of Conscience Liberty_ (1673), p. 225.

[108] _History of Mary Queen of Scots and James I._, p. 334. Bishop
Kennet, in his Fifth of November Sermon, 1715, boldly declares that
Sanderson speaks not of Cecil the statesman, but of Cecil "a busy Romish
priest" (and, he might have added, a paid government spy). The assertion
is utterly and obviously false.

[109] _Memoirs_, p. 22.

[110] _History of England, Royal House of Stuart_, p. 27.

[111] _General History of England_, iii. 757.

[112] _History of His Own Times_, i. 11.

[113] _Church History_, Book X. § 39.

[114] _Antipathie of the English Lordly Prelacie, to the regall
Monarchie and Civill Unity_, p. 151.

[115] _A Short View of the English History_, p. 296.

[116] Note to _Fuller's Church History_, x. § 39, and to the _Student's

[117] _Illustrations_, iii. 172.

[118] Parker and Co. This author says of Cecil and his rival Raleigh,
"Both were unprincipled men, but Cecil was probably the worst. He is
suspected not only of having contrived the strange plot in which Raleigh
was involved, but of being privy to the proceedings of Catesby and his
associates, though he suffered them to remain unmolested, in order to
secure the forfeiture of their estates" (p. 338).

[119] _Criminal Trials_, ii. 68.

[120] _History of England_, i. 254, note.

[121] _Catholique Apology_, p. 412.

[122] _Hist. Prov. Angl. S.J._, p. 310.

[123] _Condition of Catholics under James I._, p. 100.

[124] R.O. _Dom. James I._, lxxxi. 70, August 29th, 1615.

[125] _A Plain and Rational Account of the Catholick Faith_, Rouen,
1721, p. 197.

[126] _Certamen utriusque Ecclesiæ_, James I.

[127] The author of the _English Protestants' Plea_ (1621) says: "Old
stratagems and tragedies of Queene Elizabeth's time must needs be
renewed and playde againe, to bring not only the Catholikes of England,
but their holy religion into obloquy" (p. 56).

Peter Talbot, Bishop of Dublin, in the _Polititian's Catechisme_ (1658)
writes: "That Cecil was the contriver, or at least the fomenter of [the
Plot,] was testified by one of his own domestick Gentlemen, who
advertised a certain Catholike, by name Master Buck, two months before,
of a wicked designe his Master had against Catholikes" (p. 94).

[128] A writer, signing himself "Architect," in an article describing
the old palace of Westminster (_Gentleman's Magazine_, July, 1800, p.
627), having occasion to mention the Gunpowder Plot, observes: "This
Plot is now pretty well understood not to have been hatched by the
Papists, but by an inveterate foe of the Catholicks of that day, the
famous minister of James.... All well-informed persons at present laugh
at the whole of this business."



THE history of the Gunpowder Plot prior to its discovery, as related
with much circumstantiality by the government of the day, has, in all
essential particulars, been accepted without demur by the great majority
of modern writers. We have already seen that those who lived nearer to
the period in question were less easily convinced; it remains to show
that the internal evidence of the story itself is incompatible with its

The point upon which everything turns is the secret, and therefore
dangerous, character of the conspiracy, which, as we are told,
completely eluded the vigilance of the authorities, and was on the very
verge of success before even a breath of suspicion was aroused, being
balked only by a lucky accident occurring at the eleventh hour, in a
manner fitly described as miraculous.

On the other hand, however, many plain and obvious considerations
combine to show that such an account cannot be true. It is not easy to
believe that much which is said to have been done by the conspirators
ever occurred at all. It is clear that, if such things did occur, they
can by no possibility have escaped observation. There is evidence that
the government knew of the Plot long before they suddenly "discovered"
it. Finally, the story of the said "discovery," and the manner in which
it took place, is plainly not only untrue, but devised to conceal the
truth; while the elaborate care expended upon it sufficiently indicates
how important it was held that the truth should be concealed.

There are, moreover, arguments, which appear to deserve consideration,
suggesting the conclusion that the Plot was actually set on foot by the
secret instigation of those who designed to make it serve their ends, as
in fact it did. For our purpose, however, it is not necessary to insist
greatly upon these. It will be enough to show that, whatever its origin,
the conspiracy was, and must have been, known to those in power, who,
playing with their infatuated dupes, allowed them to go on with their
mad scheme, till the moment came to strike with full effect; thus
impressing the nation with a profound sense of its marvellous
deliverance, and winning its confidence for those to whose vigilance and
sagacity alone that deliverance appeared due.

That we may rightly follow the details of the story told to us, we must
in the first place understand the topography of the scene of operations,
which, with the aid of the illustrations given, will not be difficult.



A. The House of Lords.

B. Chamber under the House of Lords, called "Guy Faukes' Cellar."

C. The Prince's Chamber.

D. The Painted Chamber.

E. The "White Hall" or Court of Requests.

F. The House of Commons (formerly St. Stephen's Chapel).

G. Westminster Hall.

H. St. Stephen's Cloisters, converted into houses for the Tellers of the

I. Garden of the Old Palace (afterwards called "Cotton Garden").

J. House built on the site of the Chapel of "Our Lady of the Pew"
(called later "Cotton House").

K K K. Houses built upon ruins of the walls of the Old Palace.

L. Vault under the Painted Chamber.

M. Yard or Court into which a doorway opened from Guy Faukes' Cellar.

N. Passage leading from the same Yard or Court into Parliament Place.

O. Parliament Place.

P. Parliament Stairs (formerly called "The Queen's Bridge").

Q Q. The River Thames.

R. Old Palace Yard.

S. Westminster Abbey.

T. St. Margaret's Church.

U V W. Buildings of the Old Palace, called "Heaven" (or "Paradise"),
"Hell," and "Purgatory."

X. New Palace Yard.

Y. Bell Tower of St. Stephen's.

Z. The Speaker's Garden.]

The old House of Lords[129] was a chamber occupying the first floor of
a building which stood about fifty yards from the left bank of the
Thames, to which it was parallel, the stream at this point running
almost due north. Beneath the Peers' Chamber, on the ground floor, was a
large room, which plays an important part in our history. This had
originally served as the palace kitchen,[130] and though commonly
described as a "cellar" or a "vault" was in reality neither, for it
stood on the level of the ground outside, and had a flat ceiling, formed
by the beams which supported the flooring of the Lords' apartment
above.[131] It ran beneath the said Peers' Chamber from end to end, and
measured 77 feet in length, by 24 feet 4 inches in width.

At either end, the building abutted upon another running transversely to
it; that on the north being the "Painted Chamber," probably erected by
Edward the Confessor, and that on the south the "Prince's Chamber,"
assigned by its architectural features to the reign of Henry III. The
former served as a place of conference for Lords and Commons,[132] the
latter as the robing-room of the Lords. The royal throne stood at the
south end of the House, near the Prince's Chamber.


Originally the Parliament Chamber and the "cellar" beneath it were
lighted by large windows on both sides; subsequently, houses raised
against it blocked these up, and the Lords were supplied with light by
dormers constructed in the roof. The walls of their apartment were then
hung with tapestry, representing the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
Although precise information on the point is not easy to obtain, it
would appear that this did not occur till a period later than that with
which we are concerned.[133]

Such was the position to be attacked. As a first step, the conspirators
resolved to hire a house in the immediate neighbourhood, to serve them
as a base of operations. Thomas Percy was selected to appear as the
principal in this part of the business, for, being one of the king's
pensioners, he had frequently to be in attendance at Court, and might
naturally wish to have a lodging close at hand. The house chosen was
one, or rather a part of one,[134] standing near the Prince's Chamber,
and on the side towards the river.[135]

In treating for the lease of this tenement Percy seems to have conducted
himself in a manner altogether different from what we might have
expected of one whose object required him, above all, to avoid
attracting notice. He appears, in fact, to have made the greatest
possible ado about the business. The apartments were already let to one
Ferrers, who was unwilling to give them up, and Percy eventually
succeeded in his purpose, after not only "long suit by himself," but
also "great intreaty of Mr. Carleton, Mr. Epsley, and other gentlemen
belonging to the Earl of Northumberland."[136] These gentlemen were
never said to have been privy to the Conspiracy, and one of them, the
well-known Dudley Carleton, afterwards Viscount Dorchester, was not only
at this time secretary to Sir Thomas Parry, the Ambassador in France,
but was "patronised" by Cecil himself.[137]


Neither does the house appear to have been well suited to serve the
purposes for which it was taken. Speed tells us,[138] and he is
confirmed by Bishop Barlow of Lincoln,[139] that it was let out to
tenants only when Parliament was not assembled, and during a session
formed part of the premises at the disposal of the Lords, whom it served
as a withdrawing room. As the Plot was, of necessity, to take effect
during a session,[140] when the place would thus be in other hands, it
is very hard to understand how it was intended that the final and all
important operation should be conducted.

The bargain for the house was concluded May 24th, 1604,[141] but the
proposed operations were delayed till a much later date, by a
circumstance which clearly shows the public nature of the premises, and
that the lease obtained conferred no exclusive right of occupation. The
question of a union with Scotland, for which King James was very
anxious, was at the time being agitated, and commissioners having been
appointed to discuss it, this very house was placed at their disposal
for their meetings. Consequently the summer and autumn passed without
any farther steps being taken by the conspirators.

At last, in December, they were free to take in hand the extraordinary
scheme they had matured. This was, starting from a cellar of Percy's
house,[142] to dig thence an underground mine to the foundations of the
Parliament House, and through them; and then to construct within,
beneath the Peers' Chamber itself, a "concavity" large enough to contain
the amount of powder requisite for their purpose. On December 11th,
1604, they commenced operations,[143] and in a fortnight, that is by
Christmas, they had tunnelled from their starting-point to the wall they
had to breach; and that this first operation was of no small magnitude,
especially for men who had never before handled pick or shovel,[144] is
shown by the fact that what they contrived to do in so short a time was
quoted as evidence of the extraordinary zeal they displayed in their
nefarious enterprise.[145] Having rested a little, for the Christmas
holidays, they began upon the wall, which presented an unexpected
obstacle. They found that it was not only "very hard to beat through,"
but, moreover, nine feet thick, though since, as we shall see, they
never penetrated to the other side, it is not clear how they were able
to measure it.[146] Up to this point but five persons had engaged in the
work, Catesby, Percy, Thomas Winter, John Wright, and Faukes. In
consequence however of the difficulties now experienced, Keyes was
called in to their aid. He had already been initiated in the Plot, and
appointed to take charge of the powder, which was being accumulated and
stored in a house hired for the purpose across the Thames, at Lambeth.
It was therefore necessary to bring over the powder with him, which
amounted at this time to twenty barrels, and was placed either in
Percy's lodging itself, or in an outhouse belonging to it. About the
same time Christopher Wright was also initiated and took his share of
the labour.[147]

The gang thus composed laboured upon the wall from the beginning of
January, 1604-5, to the middle of March,[148] by which time they had
succeeded in getting only half way through. While the others worked,
Faukes stood on sentry to warn them of any danger.

Meanwhile, it must be asked how proceedings so remarkable could have
escaped the notice, not only of the government, but of the entire
neighbourhood. This, it must be remembered, was most populous. There
were people living in the very building, a part of which sheltered the
conspirators. Around, were thickly clustered the dwellings of the keeper
of the Wardrobe, auditors and tellers of the Exchequer, and other such
officials.[149] There were tradespeople and workmen constantly employed
close to the spot where the work was going on; while the public
character of the place makes it impossible to suppose that tenants such
as Percy and his friends, who were little better than lodgers, could
claim the exclusive use of anything beyond the rooms they rented--even
when allowed the use of these--or could shut against the neighbours and
visitors in general the precincts of so much frequented a spot.

How, then, did they dispose of the mass of soil dug out in making a
tunnel through which barrels and hogsheads were to be conveyed? No man
who has had practical experience of the unexpected quantity of earth
which comes out of the most insignificant excavation, will be likely to
rest satisfied with the explanation officially given, that it was
sufficiently concealed by being hidden beneath the turf in the little
garden adjoining.[150] What, moreover, was done with the great stones
that came out of the foundations? Of these there must have been on hand
at least some sixty cubic feet, probably much more, and they, at any
rate, can scarcely have been stowed away beneath the turf.

What, above all, of the noise made during the space of a couple of
months, in assaulting a wall "very hard to beat through"? It is a matter
of common observation how sound travels in the ground, and every stroke
of the pick upon the stone must have been distinctly heard for more than
a hundred yards all around, constituting a public nuisance. Meanwhile,
not only were there people living close by on every side, but men were
constantly at work right over the heads of the diggers, and only a few
feet from them: yet we are required to believe that neither these nor
any others had any notion that anything unusual was going on.

Neither is it easy to understand how these amateurs contrived to do so
much without a catastrophe. To make a tunnel through soft earth is a
very delicate operation, replete with unlooked-for difficulties. To
shore up the roof and sides there must, moreover, have been required a
large quantity of the "framed timber" of which Speed tells us, and the
provision and importation of this must have been almost as hard to keep
dark as the exportation of the earth and stones. A still more critical
operation is that of meddling with the foundations of a
house--especially of an old and heavy structure--which a professional
craftsman would not venture upon except with extreme care, and the
employment of many precautions of which these light-hearted adventurers
knew nothing. Yet, recklessly breaking their way out of one building,
and to a large extent into another, they appear to have occasioned
neither crack nor settlement in either.

We are by no means at the end of our difficulties. According to the tale
told by Faukes,[151] all the seven miners "lay in Percy's house," never
showing themselves while the work was in progress. This circumstance, to
say nothing of the storage of powder barrels and timber, seems to imply
that the premises were spacious and commodious. We learn, however, on
the unimpeachable evidence of Mrs. Whynniard's servant,[152] that the
house afforded accommodation only for one person at a time, so that when
Percy came there to spend the night, Faukes, who passed for his man, had
to lodge out. This suggests another question. Percy's pretext for laying
in so much fuel was that he meant to bring up his wife to live there.
But how could this be under such conditions?

Still more serious is another problem. When the mining operations were
commenced, in December, 1604, Parliament was appointed to meet on the
7th of February following, by which time, as is evident, the
preparations of the conspirators could not have been completed. While
they were working, however, news came that the session was to be
postponed till October. This information the conspirators appear to
have received quite casually before Christmas, for it is said that on
the strength of it, they thought they could afford to take a
holiday.[153] Early in January they were again at work,[154] and they
continued their operations thenceforth, without any circumstance
intervening to interrupt or alarm them, of which we hear anything either
from themselves or from subsequent writers. Nevertheless, it is quite
certain that the Lords actually met on February 7th--that is while the
mining operations were going on--and not only went through the ceremony
of prorogation, but transacted some little business besides, Lord Denny
being introduced and his writ of summons read.[155] It is equally
incomprehensible that the miners should have known nothing of so
startling an occurrence, or that knowing of it they should never have
made the slightest mention thereof. It is even more difficult to explain
how the Peers thus assembled, and their attendants, could have failed to
remark the mine, then actually open, in premises belonging to
themselves, or any suspicious features of earth, stones, timber, or

The difficulties presented by the stubborn nature of the foundation-wall
proved well-nigh insuperable, but, as is observed by Father
Greenway,[156] one still more grave awaited the diggers had they
succeeded in making their way through. The "concavity" to be excavated
within, to contain the large number of powder barrels required for their
purpose, would have involved engineering work of the most hazardous
kind, and heavily laden as the floor above proved to be, it must,
according to all rules of calculation, have collapsed, when thus
undermined. But at this juncture, when the wall had been half pierced, a
circumstance occurred, not less extraordinary than others we have
considered, to change the whole plan of operations.

All this time, ridiculous as is the supposition, the conspirators appear
to have been ignorant of the existence of the "cellar," and to have
fancied that they were working their way immediately beneath the Chamber
of the Peers.[157] If such a circumstance be incredible, the
consequences must be borne by the narrative of which it forms an
essential feature. That it is incredible can hardly be questioned. The
so-called "cellar," as we have seen, was a large and conspicuous room
above ground. There are reasons for believing that it served habitually
as a passage between the different parts of the palace. It appears
certain that some of the conspirators, Percy in particular, as being one
of his Majesty's pensioners, must have frequently been in the House of
Lords itself, and therefore have known where it was; and clearly men of
their position were able to attend there when they chose.[158]

The manner in which they came at last to discover the "cellar" is thus
related by Mr. Jardine:[159] "One morning, while working upon the wall,
they suddenly heard a rushing noise in a cellar, nearly above their
heads. At first they imagined that they had been discovered; but Fawkes
being despatched to reconnoitre, found that one Bright, to whom the
cellar belonged, was selling off his coals[160] in order to remove, and
that the noise proceeded from this cause. Fawkes carefully surveyed the
place, which proved to be a large vault, situated immediately below the
House of Lords, and extremely convenient for the purpose they had in
view.... Finding that the cellar would shortly become vacant, the
conspirators agreed that it should be hired in Percy's name, under the
pretext that he wanted it for his own coals and wood. This was
accordingly done, and immediate possession was obtained."[161]


It is obvious that Mr. Bright's men must on this, as presumably upon
many previous occasions, have been at work among the coals, while the
miners were hammering at the foundations beneath them, and yet have been
as little aware of what was going on as were the others of the existence
of the "cellar." It must, farther, be noted that the hiring of this
receptacle was, in fact, by no means so easy a matter as the accounts
ordinarily given would lead us to suppose. Faukes, in the narrative on
which the whole history of this episode has been based, is made to say
that he found that the coals were a-selling, and the cellar was to be
let, whereupon Percy went and hired it. Mrs. Whynniard, however, tells
us that the cellar was not to let, and that Bright had not the disposal
of the lease, but one Skinner, and that Percy "laboured very earnestly"
before he succeeded in obtaining it.


But, whatever the circumstances and manner of the transaction, it
appears that at Lady-day, 1605, this chamber came into the hands of
those who were to make it so famous; whereupon, we are told, they
resolved to abandon the mine, and use this ready-made cavity for their
purposes. To it, accordingly, they transferred their powder, the
barrels, by subsequent additions, being increased to thirty-six, and the
amount to nine or ten thousand pounds.[162] The casks were covered with
firewood, 500 faggots and 3,000 billets being brought in by hired
porters and piled up by Faukes, to whose charge, in his assumed
character of Percy's servant, the cellar was committed. It is stated in
Winter's long declaration on this subject,[163] that the barrels were
thus completely hidden, "because we might have the house free, to suffer
anyone to enter that would," and we find it mentioned by various writers
subsequently, that free ingress was actually allowed to the public. Thus
we read[164] of "the deep cunning [of the conspirators] in throwing
open the vault, as if there had been nothing to conceal;" while another
writer[165] tells us, "The place was hired by Percy; 36 barrels of
gunpowder were lodged in it; the whole covered up with billets and
faggots; the doors of the cellar boldly flung open, and everybody
admitted, as though it contained nothing dangerous." On the top of the
barrels were likewise placed "great bars of iron and massy stones," in
order "to make the breach the greater."


We may here pause to review the extraordinary story to which we have
been listening. A group of men, known for as dangerous characters as any
in England, men, in Cecil's own words,[166] "spent in their fortunes,"
"hunger-starved for innovations," "turbulent spirits," and "fit for all
alterations," take a house within the precincts of a royal palace, and
close to the Upper House of Parliament, dig a mine, hammer away for over
two months at the wall, acquire and bring in four tons of gunpowder,
storing it in a large and conspicuous chamber immediately beneath that
of the Peers, and covering it with an amount of fuel sufficient for a
royal establishment--and meanwhile those responsible for the government
of the country have not even the faintest suspicion of any possible
danger. "Never," it is said,[167] "was treason more secret, or ruin more
apparently inevitable," while the Secretary of State himself
declared[168] that such ruin was averted only by the direct
interposition of Heaven, in a manner nothing short of miraculous.

It must be remembered that the government thus credited with childlike
and culpable simplicity, was probably the most suspicious and
inquisitive that ever held power in this country, for its tenure whereof
it trusted mainly to the elaborate efficiency of its intelligence
department. Of a former secretary, Walsingham, Parsons wrote that he
"spent infinite upon spyery,"[169] and there can be no doubt that his
successor, now in office, had studied his methods to good purpose. "He,"
according to a panegyrist,[170] "was his craft's master in foreign
intelligence and for domestic affairs," who could tell at any moment
what ships there were in every port of Spain, their burdens, their
equipment, and their destination. We are told[171] that he could
discover the most secret business transacted in the Papal Court before
it was known to the Catholics in England. He could intercept letters
written from Paris to Brussels, or from Rome to Naples.[172] What was
his activity at home is sufficiently evidenced by the reports furnished
by his numerous agents concerning everything done throughout the
country, in particular by Recusants; whereof we shall see more, in
connection with this particular affair. That those so remarkably
wide-awake in regard of all else should have been blind and deaf to what
was passing at their own doors appears altogether incredible.

More especially do difficulties connect themselves with the gunpowder
itself. Of this, according to the lowest figure given us, there were
over four tons.[173] How, we may ask, could half a dozen men, "notorious
Recusants," and bearing, moreover, such a character as we have heard,
without attracting any notice, and no question being asked, possess
themselves of such a quantity of so dangerous a material?[174] How large
was the amount may be estimated from the fact that it was more than a
quarter of what, in 1607, was delivered from the royal store, for all
purposes, and was equal to what was thought sufficient for Dover Castle,
while there was no more in the four fortresses of Arcliffe, Walmer,
Deal, and Camber together.[175]

The twenty barrels first procured were first, as we have seen, stored
beyond the Thames, at Lambeth, whence they had to be ferried across the
river, hauled up the much frequented Parliament Stairs, carried down
Parliament Place, as busy a quarter as any in the city of Westminster,
and into the building adjoining the Parliament House, or the "cellar"
beneath the same. All this, we are to suppose, without attracting
attention or remark.[176]

The conspirators, while making these material preparations, were
likewise busy in settling their plan of action when the intended blow
should have been struck. It was by no means their intention to attempt a
revolution. Their quarrel was purely personal with King James, his
Council, and his Parliament, and, these being removed, they desired to
continue the succession in its legitimate course, and to seat on the
throne the nearest heir who might be available for the purpose; placing
the new sovereign, however, under such tutelage as should insure the
inauguration of a right course of policy. The details of the scheme were
of as lunatic a character as the rest of the business. The confederates
would have wished to possess themselves of Prince Henry, the king's
eldest son; but as he would probably accompany his father to the
opening of Parliament, and so perish, their desire was to get hold of
his brother, the Duke of York, afterwards Charles I., then but five
years old. It was, however, possible that he too might go to Parliament,
and otherwise it might not improbably be impossible to get possession of
him: in which case they were prepared to be satisfied with the Princess
Elizabeth,[177] or even with her infant sister Mary, for whom, as being
English born, a special claim might be urged.

Such was the project in general. When we come to details, we are
confronted, as might be anticipated, with statements impossible to
reconcile. We are told,[178] that Percy undertook to seize and carry off
Duke Charles; and again,[179] that, despairing of being able to lay
hands upon him, they resolved "to serve themselves with the Lady
Elizabeth," and that Percy was one of those who made arrangements for
seizing her;[180] and again, that having learnt that Prince Henry was
not to go to the House, they determined to surprise him, "and leave the
young Duke alone;"[181] and once more, that they never entered into any
consultation or formed any project whatever as to the succession.[182]

Still more serious are the contradictions on another point. We are told,
on the one hand, that a proclamation was drawn up for the inauguration
of the new sovereign--whoever this was[183]--and, on the other, that the
associates were resolved not to avow the explosion to be their work
until they should see how the country took it, or till they had gathered
a sufficient force,[184] and accordingly that they had no more than a
project of a proclamation to be issued in due season. But, again, it is
said[185] that Catesby on his way out of town, after the event, was to
proclaim the new monarch at Charing Cross, though it is equally hard to
understand, either how he was to know which of the plans had succeeded,
and who that monarch was to be,--whether a king or a queen,--or what
effect such proclamation by an obscure individual like himself was
expected to produce; or how this, or indeed any item in the programme
was compatible with the incognito of the actors in the great tragedy.

Amid this hopeless tangle one point alone is perfectly clear. Whatever
was the scheme, it was absolutely insane, and could by no possibility
have succeeded. As Mr. Gardiner says:[186] "With the advantage of having
an infant sovereign in their hands, with a little money and a few
horses, these sanguine dreamers fancied that they would have the whole
of England at their feet."

Such is in outline the authorized version of the history concerning what
Father John Gerard styles "this preposterous Plot of Powder;" and
preposterous it undoubtedly appears to be in more senses than he
intended. It is, in the first place, almost impossible to believe that
the important and dramatic episode of the mine ever, in fact, occurred.
We have seen something of the difficulties against accepting this part
of the story, which the circumstantial evidence suggests. When, on the
other hand, we ask upon what testimony it rests, it is a surprise to
find that for so prominent and striking an incident we are wholly
dependent upon two documents, published by the government, a confession
of Thomas Winter and another of Faukes, both of which present features
rendering them in the highest degree suspicious. Amongst the many
confessions and declarations made by the conspirators in general, and
these individuals in particular, these two alone describe the mining


On the other hand, it is somewhat startling to find no less a person
than the Earl of Salisbury himself ignorant or oblivious of so
remarkable a circumstance. In Thomas Winter's lodging was found the
agreement between Percy and Ferrers for the lease of the house, which
was taken, as has been said, in May, 1604. This is still preserved, and
has been endorsed by Cecil, "The bargaine between Percy and Ferrers for
the bloody sellar...." But this contract had nothing to do with the
"bloody sellar," which was not rented till ten months later. Again,
writing November 9th, 1605, to Cornwallis and Edmondes, Cecil says:
"This Percy had about a year and a half ago hired a part of Vyniard's
house in the old Palace, from whence he had access into this vault to
lay his wood and coal, and as it seemeth now [had] taken this place of
purpose to work some mischief in a fit time." When this was written the
premises had been for four days in the hands of the government. It is
clearly impossible that the remains of the mine, had they existed,
should not have been found, and equally so that Cecil should not have
alluded to the overwhelming evidence they afforded as to the intention
of Percy and his associates to "work some mischief," but should, again,
have connected the tenancy of the house only with the "cellar."

It will, moreover, be found by investigators that when exceptional
stress is laid on any point by Sir E. Coke, the Attorney General, a
_prima facie_ case against the genuine nature of the evidence in regard
of that point is thereby established. In his speech on the trial of the
conspirators we find him declaring that, "If the cellar had not been
hired, the mine work could hardly, or not at all, have been discovered,
for the mine was neither found nor suspected until the danger was past,
and the capital offenders apprehended, and by themselves, upon
examination, confessed." That is to say, the government could not,
though provided with information that there was a powder-mine under the
Parliament House, have discovered this extraordinary piece of
engineering; and moreover, after its abandonment, the traces of the
excavation were so artfully hidden as to elude observation till the
prisoners drew attention to them. Such assertions cannot possibly be
true; but they might serve to meet the objection that no one had seen
the mine.

We likewise find that in his examination of November 5th, Faukes is made
to say: "He confesseth that about Christmas last [1604], he brought in
the nighttime Gunpowder _to the cellar under the upper house of
Parliament_," that is some three months before the cellar was hired.
Moreover, the words italicised have been added as an interlineation,
apparently by Cecil himself. Evidently when this was done the mine was
still undiscovered.

Yet more remarkable is the fact that it would appear to have remained
undiscovered ever afterwards, and that no marks seem to have been left
upon the wall which had been so roughly handled. It is certainly
impossible to find any record that such traces were observed when the
building was demolished, though they could scarcely have failed to
attract attention and interest. On this subject we have the important
evidence of Mr. William Capon, who carefully examined every detail
connected with the old palace, and evidently had the opportunity of
studying the foundations of the House of Lords when, in 1823, that
building was removed.[188] He does, indeed, mention what he conceives
to be the traces of the conspirators' work, of which he gives the
following description:

"Adjoining the south end of the Cellar, or more properly the ancient
Kitchen, to the west, was a small room separated only by a stone
doorway, with a pointed head, and with very substantial masonry joined
to the older walls.... At the North side [of this] there had been an
opening, a doorway of very solid thick stonemasonry, through which was a
way seemingly forced through by great violence.... In 1799 it was
asserted that this was always understood to have been the place where
the conspirators broke into the vault which adjoined that called Guy
Vaux's cellar."[189]

But against such a supposition there are three fatal objections. (1)
This places the conspirators on the wrong side of the house, for they
most certainly worked from the east, or river side, not from the
west.[190] (2) It makes the mine above ground instead of below. (3) The
conspirators never broke into the cellar at all, but hired it in the
ordinary way of business.

Such considerations as the above may well make us sceptical in regard to
the mine, and if this element of the story, upon which so much stress
has always been laid, prove to be untrustworthy, it must needs follow
that grave suspicion will be cast upon the rest.

There are, likewise, various problems in connection with the "cellar,"
especially as concerns the means of ingress to it, and its consequent
privacy or publicity.

(_a_) Faukes says (November 6th, 1605) that about the middle of Lent of
that year Percy caused "a new dore" to be made into it, "that he might
have a neerer way out of his own house into the cellar."

This seems to imply that Percy took the cellar for his firewood when
there was no convenient communication between it and his house. Moreover
it is not very easy to understand how a tenant under such conditions as
his was allowed at discretion to knock doors through the walls of a
royal palace. Neither did the landlady say anything of this door-making,
when detailing what she knew about Percy's proceedings.

(_b_) In some notes by Sir E. Coke,[191] it is said: "The powder was
first brought into Percy's house, and lay there in a low room new built,
and could not have been conveyed into the cellar by the old door but
that all the street must have seen it; and therefore he caused a new
door out of his house into the cellar to be made, where before there had
been a grate of iron."

This, it must be confessed, looks very like an afterthought to explain
away a difficulty, but failing to do so. When the door is said to have
been made, the powder was already on the premises, having been brought
there in sight of the whole street and the river. It could hardly, in so
small a tenement, escape the observation of the workmen,[192] while the
operations of these latter in breaking through the wall would have
served yet farther to attract the attention of the neighbourhood.

(_c_) We are told by Faukes and others, that either he or Percy always
kept the key, and that marks were made to indicate whether anyone had
entered the place in their absence.

(_d_) On the other hand, to say nothing of Winter's declaration that the
confederates so arranged as to leave the cellar free for all to enter
who would, Lord Salisbury informed Sir Thomas Parry[193] that the
captors of Faukes entered through "another door," which clearly did not
require to be opened by him; while as to the ordinary door, whichever
this was, the "King's Book" itself plainly intimates, in the account of
the chamberlain's visit, that Whynniard, the landlord, was able to open
it when he chose.

The "other door" spoken of by Cecil, a most important feature of the
chamber, is nowhere else mentioned.[194]

It appears certain that the conspirators really had a plot in hand, that
they fancied themselves to be about to strike a great blow, and that by
means of gunpowder; but what was the precise nature of their plans and
preparations it is not so easy to determine. Farther discussion of these
particulars must be deferred to a later chapter. Meanwhile, according to
the accepted history, when they had stored their powder there was
nothing more to do but to await the assembling of the intended
victims. Parliament stood prorogued till October 3rd, and was afterwards
further adjourned till the fateful 5th of November. That they might not
excite suspicion, the confederates separated, most of them retiring to
their country seats, and Faukes going over to Flanders.[195] In his
absence Percy kept the key of the cellar, and, according to Faukes,[196]
laid in more powder and wood while he himself was absent.

[Illustration: THE POWDER PLOT. II.]

It is not easy to understand what became of the cellar during this long
interval, and apparently it was left in great measure, with its
compromising contents, to take care of itself, for Percy, amongst other
places, went with Catesby to Bath to take the waters.[197] If the
premises were of so public a nature as the testimony of Winter and
others would imply, it appears impossible that they should have remained
all this time sealed up, or that these astute and crafty plotters should
with a light heart have ignored the probability that they would be
visited and inspected. As Father Greenway observes,[198] it can hardly
be supposed that the landlord[199] had not a duplicate key, while Cecil
himself, in his letter to Sir Thomas Parry, plainly indicates that
access to the cellar could freely be procured independently of the
conspirators. We can only say that the conduct of the confederates in
this particular appears to have been quite in keeping with their method
of conspiring secretly as we have already seen it, and undoubtedly one
more difficulty is thus opposed to the supposition that their enterprise
was chiefly dangerous on account of the clandestine and dexterous manner
in which it was conducted.


[129] The name "old House of Lords" is somewhat ambiguous, being
variously applicable to three different buildings:

(i.) That here described, which continued to be used till the Irish
Union, A.D. 1800.

(ii.) The "Court of Requests," or "White Hall," used from 1800 till the
fire of 1834.

(iii.) The "Painted Chamber," which, having been repaired after the said
fire, became the place of assembly for the Lords, as did the Court of
Requests for the Commons.

The original House of Lords was demolished in 1823 by Sir John Soane,
who on its site erected his Royal Gallery. (See Brayley and Britton,
_History of the Palace of Westminster_.)

[130] The authority for this is the Earl of Northampton, who at Father
Garnet's trial mentioned that it was so stated in ancient records.
Remains of a buttery hatch in the south wall confirmed his assertion.

The foundations of the building were believed to date from the time of
Edward the Confessor, and the style of architecture of the
superstructure assigned it to the early part of the thirteenth century,
as likewise the "Prince's Chamber."

[131] Brayley and Britton, _History of the Palace of Westminster_, p.
421; J. T. Smith, _Antiquities of Westminster_, p. 39 (where
illustrations will be found); _Gentleman's Magazine_, July, 1800, p.

[132] It was here that the death warrant of Charles I. was signed.

[133] An old print (which states that it is taken from "a painted print
in the Cottonian library,") representing the two Houses assembled in
presence of Queen Elizabeth, has windows on both sides. The same plate,
with the figure of the sovereign alone changed, was made to do duty
likewise for a Parliament of James I. By Hollar's time (1640-77) the
windows had been blocked up and the tapestry hung.

[134] Cecil wrote to Cornwallis, Edmondes, and others, November 9th,
1605, "This Piercey had a bout a year and a half a goe hyred a parte of
Vyniards house in the old Palace," which appears to be Mr. Hepworth
Dixon's sole authority for styling the tenement "Vinegar House."

[135] See Appendix E, _Site of Percy's house_.

[136] Evidence of Mrs. Whynniard, November 7th, 1605. Epsley is
evidently the same person as Hoppisley, who was examined on the 23rd of
the same month.

[137] Birch, _Historical View_, p. 227.

[138] _Historie_, p. 1231.

[139] _Gunpowder Treason, Harleian Miscellany_, iii. 121.

[140] At his first examination, November 5th 1605, Faukes declared that
he had not been sure the king would come to the Parliament House on that
day, and that his purpose was to have blown it up whenever his Majesty
was there.

[141] The agreement between Percy and Ferrers is in the Record Office
(_Gunpowder Plot Book_, 1.) and is endorsed by Cecil, "The bargaine ...
for the bloody sellar." Upon this there will be more to remark later.

[142] Jardine, _Gunpowder Plot_, p. 42.

[143] The 11th of December, O. S., was at that period the shortest day,
which circumstance suggested to Sir E. Coke, on the trial of the
conspirators, one of his characteristic facetiæ; he bade his hearers
note "That it was in the entring of the Sun into the Tropick of
Capricorn, when they began their Mine; noting that by Mining they should
descend, and by Hanging, ascend."

[144] "Gentlemen not accustomed to labour or to be pioneers."--Goodman,
_Court of King James_, p. 103.

[145] "The Moles that first underwent these underminings were all
grounded Schollers of the Romish Schoole, and such earnest Labourers in
their Vault of Villany, that by Christmas Eve they had brought the worke
under an entry, unto the Wall of the Parliament House, underpropping
still as they went the Earth with their framed Timber."--Speed,
_Historie_, p. 1232 (pub. 1611).

[146] In Barlow's _Gunpowder Treason_ these foundations are stated to
have been three ells thick, _i.e._, eleven and a quarter feet. _Harleian
Miscellany_, iii. 122.

[147] See Appendix F, _The enrolment of the Conspirators_, for the
discrepancies as to dates. T. Winter (November 23rd, 1605) says that the
powder was laid "in Mr. Percy's house;" Faukes, "in a low Room new

[148] There is, as usual, hopeless contradiction between the two
witnesses upon whom, as will be seen, we wholly depend for this portion
of the story. Faukes (November 17th, 1605) makes the mining operations
terminate at Candlemas. T. Winter (November 23rd) says that they went on
to "near Easter" (March 31st). The date of hiring the "cellar," was
about Lady Day (March 25th).

[149] The buildings of the dissolved College of St. Stephen, comprising
those around the House of Lords, were granted by Edward VI. to Sir Ralph
Lane. They reverted to the crown under Elizabeth, and were appropriated
as residences for the auditors and tellers of the Exchequer. The
locality became so populous that in 1606 it was forbidden to erect more

[150] Jardine, _Gunpowder Plot_, p. 48.

[151] November 17th, 1605.

[152] November 7th, 1605.

[153] Winter says: "... We heard that the Parliament should be anew
adjourned until after Michaelmas; upon which tidings we broke off both
discourse and working until after Christmas" (November 23rd, 1605).

Lingard writes, "When a fortnight had thus been devoted to uninterrupted
labour, Faukes informed his associates that the Parliament was prorogued
from the 7th of February to the 3rd of October. They immediately
separated to spend the Christmas holidays at their respective
homes."--_History_, vii. 47 (ed. 1883).

[154] Faukes, as has been said, makes the work upon the wall terminate
at Candlemas. Winter (_ut sup._) says that they brought over the powder
at Candlemas, that is, after they had been some time engaged upon the
wall, and found the need of the assistance of Keyes.

[155] _Lord's Journals_ "A^o 1604(5) 2 Jac.--Memorandum quod hodierno
die, septimo die Februarii, A^o Regis ñri Jacobi, _viz._ Angliae (etc.)
2^{ndo}, & Scotiae 38^o, in quem diem prorogatum fuerat hoc praesens
parliamentum, convenere Proceres tam Spirituales quam Temporales, quorum
nomina subscribuntur."

Then follow twenty-nine names, including the Archbishop of Canterbury,
Lords Ellesmere (_Chancellor_), Dorset (_Treasurer_), Nottingham
(_Admiral_), Suffolk (_Chamberlain_), Northumberland, Cranborne (Cecil),
Northampton, etc. It is noted "Lords Montagu, Petre, and Gerard [all
three Catholics] were present, though they were none of the

[156] _Narrative_ (Stonyhurst MSS.), fol. 44 b.

[157] This absurd supposition is obviously implied by Faukes (November
17th, 1605), and T. Winter (November 23rd), in the only two accounts
furnished by any of the conspirators wherein the episode of the mine is
mentioned. In Barlow's _Gunpowder Treason_ (_Harleian Miscellany_, iii.
123) it is expressly stated that the confederates "came to the knowledge
of the vault" only on the occasion now detailed. Tierney says (Dodd's
_Church History_, iv. 45, note): "At this moment an accidental noise ...
first acquainted them with the existence of the cellar."

[158] On the 3rd of October following, Thomas Winter was sent to be
present at the ceremony of prorogation, and to watch the demeanour of
the assembled peers.

[159] _Gunpowder Plot_, p. 55. This account is based almost entirely on
that of Faukes, November 17th, 1605.

[160] In his Italian version of Father Gerard's history, Father Greenway
interpolates the following note: "Questi non erano carboni di legno, ma
una sorte di pietra negra, la quale come carbone abrugia et fa un fuogo
bellissimo et ottimo" (fol. 44 b).

    "These Pioneers through Piercies chamber brought
    Th' exhausted earth, great baskets full of clay;
    Thereby t' have made a mighty concave vau't,
    And of the house the ground worke tooke away:
      But then at last an obstacle they finde,
      Which to remove proud Piercy casts in 's mind.
    A thick stone wall their passage then did let;
    Whereby they cou'd not finish their intent.
    Then forthwith Piercy did a sellar get,
    Under that sacred house for yearly rent:
      Feigning to fill 't with Char coal, Wood, & Beere,
      From all suspect themselves to cloake & cleere."

    JOHN VICARS, _Mischeefes Mysterie_.

This remarkable poem, published 1617, is a much expanded translation of
_Pietas Pontificia_ (in Latin hexameter verse) by Francis Herring, which
appeared in 1606.

[162] On this point we are furnished with more than the usual amount of
variety as to details. Cecil, writing to the ambassadors (Cornwallis,
Edmondes, etc.), says there were "two hodgsheads and some 30 small
barrels." The King's _Discourse_ mentions 36 barrels. Barclay
(_Conspiratio Anglicana_) says there were over 9,000 lb. of powder, in
32 barrels, and that one of extra size had been placed under the throne,
for treason could not without dread assail Majesty even when unarmed.
The indictment of the conspirators named 30 barrels and 4 hogsheads. Sir
E. Coke always said 36 barrels. Barlow's _Gunpowder Treason_ makes the
extraordinary statement, frequently reproduced, that "to the 20 Barrels
of Powder laid in at first, they added in July 20 more, and at last made
up the number Thirty-six." Faukes (November 5th) said that of the powder
"some was put in hoggesheads, some in Barrels, and some in firkins."
Faukes also says that the powder was conveyed to the place in hampers.
John Chamberlain, writing to Dudley Carleton, November 7th, 1605, says
it was carried in satchels. Barlow (_ut sup._) quotes the amount as
9,000 or 10,000 lb.

[163] November 23rd, 1605.

[164] _The Gunpowder Plot_, by L., 1805. It seems highly probable that
the "cellar" was used as a public passage.

[165] Hugh F. Martyndale, _A Familiar Analysis of the Calendar of the
Church of England_ (November 5th). London, Effingham Wilson.

[166] _Letter to Cornwallis and Edmondes_, November 9th, 1605.

[167] H. F. Martyndale, _ut sup._

[168] Letter to the Ambassadors, _ut sup._

[169] _An Advertisement written to a Secretarie_, etc. (1592), p. 13.

[170] Sir R. Naunton, _Fragmenta Regalia (Harleian Miscellany_, ii.

[171] Blount to Parsons (Stonyhurst MSS.), _Anglia_, vi. 64.

[172] Such letters are found amongst the State Papers.

[173] The amount, it would seem, cannot have been less than this. A
barrel of gunpowder, containing four firkins, weighed 400 lb., and had
the casks in the cellar all been barrels, in the strict sense of the
word, the amount would therefore have exceeded six tons. Some of these
casks, we are told, were small, but some were hogsheads. The twenty
barrels first laid in are described as "whole barrels." (Faukes, January
20th, 1605-6.)

[174] An interesting illustration of this point is furnished by a
strange piece of evidence furnished by W. Andrew, servant to Sir E.
Digby. Sir Everard's office was to organize the rising in the Midlands,
after the catastrophe, but he apparently forgot to supply himself with
powder till the very eve of the appointed day. Andrew averred that on
the night of November 4th, his master secretly asked him to procure some
powder in the neighbouring town, whereupon he asked, "How much? A pound,
or half a pound?" Sir Everard said 200 or 300 lb. Deponent purchased one
pound. (Tanner MSS. lxxv. f. 205 b.)

One Matthew Batty mentioned Lord Monteagle as having bought gunpowder.
(_Ibid._ v. 40.)

In the same collection is a copy of some notes by Sir E. Coke (f. 185
b), in which the price of the powder discovered is put down as £200,
_i.e._ some £2,000 of our money.

[175] Gunpowder was measured by the _last_ = 2,400 lb. (Tomline's _Law
Dictionary_.) In 1607 there were delivered out of the store 14 lasts and
some cwts. In 1608 the amount in various strong places is entered as:
"_Dover Castle_, 4 lasts; _Arcliffe Bullwark_, 1 last; _Walmer_, 1 last,
8 cwt.; _Deal Castle_, 1 last; _Sandown Castle_, 2 lasts, etc.;
_Sandgate_, 1 last; _Camber_, 1 last."

[176] The position and character of the "cellar" admit of no doubt, as
appears from the testimony of Smith's _Antiquities of Westminster_,
Brayley and Britton's _Ancient Palace of Westminster_, and Capon's notes
on the same, _Vetusta Monumenta_, v. They are, however, inconsistent
with some circumstances alleged by the government. Thus, Sir Everard
Digby's complicity with "the worst part" of the treason, which on
several occasions he denied, is held to be established by a confession
of Faukes, which cannot now be found among the State Papers, but which
is mentioned in Sir E. Coke's speech upon Digby's arraignment, and is
printed in Barlow's _Gunpowder Treason_, p. 68. In Sir E. Coke's version
it runs thus: "Fawkes, then present at the bar, had confessed, that some
time before that session, the said Fawkes being with Digby at his house
in the country, about which time there had fallen much wet, Digby taking
Fawkes aside after supper, told him he was much afraid that the powder
in the cellar was grown damp, and that some new must be provided, lest
that should not take fire."

Seeing, however, that the powder stood above ground, within a most
substantial building, and could be reached by the rain only if this
should first flood the Chamber of the Peers, it does not seem as if the
idea of such a danger should have suggested itself.

Another interesting point in connection with the "cellar" is that the
House of Lords having subsequently been removed to the Court of
Requests, and afterwards to the Painted Chamber, "Guy Faukes' Cellar" on
each occasion accompanied the migration. From Leigh's _New Picture of
London_ we find that in 1824-5, when the Court of Requests was in use,
and the old cellar had completely disappeared, Guy's Cellar was still
shown; while a plate given in Knight's _Old England_, and elsewhere,
represents a vault under the Painted Chamber, not used as the House of
Lords till after 1832. Such a cellar seems to have been considered a
necessary appurtenance of the House.

[177] Afterwards the Electress Palatine.

[178] Gardiner, _Hist._ i. 245; Lingard, vii. 59; T. Winter, November
23rd, 1605.

[179] Faukes, November 17th, 1605.

[180] Harry Morgan, _Examination_ (R.O.), November 12th, 1605.

[181] T. Winter, November 23rd and 25th, 1605. As the information about
Prince Henry was alleged to have been communicated by Lord Monteagle,
the passage has been mutilated in the published version to conceal this

[182] Faukes, November 5th, 1605.

[183] Sir E. Digby, Barlow's _Gunpowder Treason_, App. 249.

[184] Faukes, November 17th, 1605.

[185] Digby, _ut sup._

[186] _History_, i. 239.

[187] There is also an allusion to the same in the confession of Keyes,
November 30th, 1605; but this document also is of a highly suspicious
character. Of the seven miners, none but these three were taken alive;
Catesby, Percy, and the two Wrights being killed in the field. Strangely
enough, though Keyes may be cited as a witness on this subject, on which
his evidence is of such singular importance, the government, for some
purpose of its own, tampered with the confession of Faukes wherein he is
mentioned as one of the excavators, substituting Robert Winter's name
for his, and placing Keyes amongst those "that wrought not in the myne."
See Jardine's remarks on this point, _Criminal Trials_, ii. 6.

[188] His detailed notes and plans are given in _Vetusta Monumenta_,
vol. v.

[189] Page 4.

[190] See Appendix E, _Site of Percy's house_.

[191] Tanner MSS. lxxv. § 185, b.

[192] Faukes, November 6th, uses the same expression, "a low room new
builded," which seems to imply that this receptacle had been constructed
since Percy came into possession of the house.

[193] November 6th, 1605. More will be seen of the important document
containing this information.

[194] According to Smith's plan (_sup._ p. 59) there were four entrances
to the cellar, none of which can have been Percy's "new dore."

[195] We are told that Faukes was selected to take charge of the house,
and perform other duties which would bring him into notice, because
being unknown in London he was not likely to excite remark. In his
declaration, November 8th, however, he gives as his reason for going
abroad, "lest, being a dangerous man, he should be known and suspected."
It is obvious that in the meantime the cellar must either have been left
in charge of others better known, and therefore more likely to excite
suspicion, or have been left unprotected.

[196] November 17th, 1605.

[197] Thomas Winter, November 23rd, 1605.

[198] F. 66.

[199] This, as we have heard, was Mr. Whynniard, who unfortunately died
very suddenly on the morning of November 5th, on hearing of the
"discovery," evidence of great importance as to the hiring of the house
and "cellar" being thus lost. "As for the keeper of the parliament
house," says Goodman, "who let out the lodgings to Percy, it is said
that as soon as ever he heard of the news what Percy intended, he
instantly fell into a fright and died; so that it could not be certainly
known who procured him the house, or by whose means."--_Court of King
James_, i. 107.



HAVING followed the history of the plotters and their doings, to the
point when everything was ready for action, we have now to inquire what,
in the meantime, those were about for whose destruction such notable
preparations were making, and whether in truth they were, as we are
assured, wrapped in a sense of false security, and altogether
unconscious of the signs and tokens that should have awakened their
suspicion and alarm.

When, by the aid of such evidence as remains to us, we turn to examine
the facts of the case, we discover in them, it must be confessed, no
symptoms whatever of supineness or lethargy. It appears, on the
contrary, that throughout the period when the government are supposed to
have been living in a fool's paradise, and tranquilly assuming that all
was well, they were in reality busily at work through their emissaries
and informers, prying into all the doings of the recusant Catholics,
receiving frequent intimation of all that was undertaken, or even
projected, and, apparently, regulating the main features of a
treasonable conspiracy, which can have been no other than the Powder
Plot itself, determining, in particular, what individuals should be
implicated therein.

In April, 1604, at the very time when we hear of the Plot as being
hatched, a letter was addressed to Sir Thomas Challoner, an official
frequently mixed up with business of this kind, by one Henry
Wright,[200] reporting the proceedings of a subordinate agent, by name
Davies, whom he styles a "discoverer,"[201] then engaged in working a
Catholic treason, with the special object of incriminating priests.
Davies has offered to "set," or mark down,[202] over threescore of
these, but Wright has told him that so many are not required, and that
he will satisfy his employers if he implicate twenty, provided they be
"most principal Jesuits and seminary priests," and therewithal has given
him thirteen or fourteen names that will serve the required purpose.
Davies replies, "that by God's grace he will absolutely do it ere

That the treason in question was none other than the Gunpowder Plot
there can be no question, unless indeed we are to say that the
authorities were engaged in fabricating a bogus conspiracy for which
there was no foundation whatever in fact. It was not the way of
statesmen of the period, when on the track of sedition, to relinquish
the pursuit till they had sifted it to the bottom, and at this juncture,
especially, every shred of evidence regarding Catholics and their
conduct was threshed out to the uttermost. In consequence, we are able
to say with certainty, that besides the enterprise of Catesby and his
associates, there was no other conspiracy of any kind on foot. We have,
moreover, already seen that the very same point thus by anticipation
represented as all important, is that which after the "discovery" every
nerve was strained to establish, namely, the complicity of the Catholic
clergy. If we had no more than this internal evidence, it would
abundantly suffice to assure us that the conspiracy thus sedulously
watched was the same as that miraculously "discovered" a year and a half

But we are not left to such inferences alone. In March, 1606, we find
Wright applying to the minister for a reward on account of his services
"in discovering villainous practices," thus indicating that by this time
those which he had been tracking had been brought to light. More
explicit still is a memorial presented to the king, at a later date, on
his behalf. This is entitled--"Touching Wright and his services
performed _in the damnable plot of the Powder treason_." King James is
reminded that Chief Justice Popham and Sir Thomas Challoner had a hand
in the discovery of the Powder, and this by means of information
supplied by Wright, "for two years space almost" before his Majesty
interpreted the famous letter to Lord Monteagle, "like an angel of God."
This information Popham and Challoner had from time to time communicated
to his Majesty, "whose hand Wright hath in testimony of his services in
the matter."[204]

In the same month of April, 1604, was supplied another piece of
information, singularly interesting and important,[205] in which were
detailed the particulars of a design amongst the Catholics at home and
abroad. Much, in fact the bulk, of the information given, is seen, in
the light of our present knowledge, to be purely fictitious, affording a
good example of the "sophistications" which, as Cecil himself
complained, his agents were wont to mingle with their intelligence. The
design in question was represented as being of the most serious and
secret nature, the papists thinking that it "must now be so handled and
carried as the great cause may lose no reputation, or if any suspicion
should grow in the state, or any come in question therefore, the main
point might never come to light;" the said "main point" being of course
the complicity of the Catholic clergy.

What invests this document with singular importance is the fact that we
hear of it again. In April, 1606, it was quoted for the benefit of
Parliament by the Attorney General, Sir E. Coke, and explicitly as
having reference to the Gunpowder Plot, forming part of the evidence
adduced by him to secure the attainder of persons accused of being
partakers in that treason.[206] It thus affords a proof, on the
authority of the government itself, that eighteen months before the
conspiracy was "discovered," intelligence regarding it had been received
and was being attended to.

[Illustration: A VIEW OF THE HOUSE OF PEERS, 1755.]

This is, however, by no means the only information of which we find
traces. Amongst the Cecil papers at Hatfield is a letter dated December
20th, 1605, addressed to the Earl of Salisbury by one Thomas Coe, who
claims to have previously forwarded to his Majesty "the primary
intelligence of these late dangerous treasons," upon which communication
the historian Lodge observes,[207] "It should seem then that the famous
letter transmitted to James by Lord Monteagle, for the right
construction of which that Prince's penetration hath been so highly
extolled by some historians, was not the only previous intelligence
communicated to him of the Gunpowder Treason."

Meanwhile the officers of the government, in all parts, appear to have
been no less alert than was their wont. On the 9th of January, 1604-5,
for instance, Sir Thomas Parry writes from Paris,[208] inclosing a note
from an informer at Dieppe, concerning an English Catholic returning
from Italy and Spain with letters for Fathers Garnet and Oldcorne, and a
cipher of three lines for a lawyer at Douay, and although the messenger
has contrived to give him the slip, he is able to send particulars
concerning his personal appearance, and the locality in London where he
is likely to be found. On the 25th of the same month, Cecil replies to
Parry[209] concerning priests and their doings, and makes the valuable
admission that their proceedings are always known to him by means of
false brethren, though, he adds, these informers always add to their
intelligence "sophistications" of their own, a fact which must not be
lost sight of in studying the reports of such folk. We hear
particularly of informations supplied by the priests Bagshawe and Cecil,
by Captain Turner, Charles Paget, and sundry others.

At the beginning of October, 1605, we make the acquaintance of another
notable informer. On the first of the month, William Willaston, then
engaged on a commission in France in connection with a proposed
commercial treaty, writes to Cecil from Paris[210] concerning a Catholic
design attributed chiefly to priests and Jesuits, who have assurance
that their friends in England, who are many and of good sort, intend "to
kindle a fire in many corners of our land, and a rebellion in Ireland,"
and that these matters be almost grown to a head, "some of their fingers
itching to be set to work." Willaston adds, "there is a particular
irreconcilable desperate malice against your Honour's person, which is
principally the cause I make bold to write unto your Lordship. You have
yet the papists in your hands, and are masters; if you let them increase
and grow so insolent, assuredly it will come to pass as to the King of
Israel, who having overthrown Benhadab ..." and so on.

On October 14th, Willaston again writes from Rouen[211] "about some
matters pretended by our Romish Catholics." The party, he says, "who"
has given light into this business "is one George Southwaick, well-known
to many of your Lordship's followers." This Southwaick, he holds to be
"very honest;" he is going to England with sundry priests and others,
and upon landing will at once communicate with the authorities and have
his comrades arrested. "Southwaick himself," adds Willaston, "must be
taken as well as the others, for he desireth not to be known to have
given any information against the rest. If it please your Lordship to
take order for his imprisonment apart, that conference privately may be
had with him, until such time as shall be thought fit to deliver him, he
can give you good directions for many matters, and may stand your honour
in stead for such purposes."

There follows a notable suggestion: "If your Lordship would be pleased
to set some man to win the Nuncio of the Pope his secretary in Paris,
you should receive very direct and sound instructions from him." The
writer goes on to speak of an intended rebellion in England, and the
kindling of a fire there, and dutifully concludes, "God grant they touch
not the person of the King nor of his children."

On the 27th of October, nine days before the "discovery," Southwaick
himself, now in England, writes to Cecil,[212] urging that the impending
arrest of priests and others should be deferred, and that for better
management of "the business, and for the better and more substantial
manifestation thereof," he ventures to suggest that "more scope of time
would make the service of more worth." Moreover, he gives warning of
preparations for trouble in the shires, in connection with "their plot,"
and finally promises, "your Honour shall not only have knowledge of all
such as are any way intercepted in the same, but also knowledge of the
end of their whole purpose, and withal be certain of their meeting here
in London, where I do not doubt to apprehend forty priests, with many
great of name, at mass, in good speed of their great intent."

On the morning of the 5th of November itself, evidently before receiving
news that the final blow had been struck, Southwaick writes to Levinus
Munck, Cecil's private secretary.[213] He excuses himself for recent
silence on the ground that he could not without prejudice to "the
business" have communicated with his employers. "The parties," he
declares, "have had, ever since I saw you, such obscure meetings, such
mutable purposes, such uncertain resolutions, as hath made me ride both
day and night, as well in foul weather as fair, omitting no
opportunities, lest I should not effect what I have by the weight of my
credit and the engagement of my duty and reputation propounded to my
honourable Lord." He farther begs that nothing may be done that might
disclose his true character to his intended victims, and concludes by
declaring that, if he be not much mistaken, he is about "a singular

If such letters proved nothing more, they would abundantly serve to
discredit the idea that a government which conducted its operations in
such a fashion could be hoodwinked by such clumsy contrivances as those
of the cellar and the mine.

Five days later,[214] Southwaick again writes to Munck, inclosing a note
of the priests who have had meetings in Paris, or have been written to
in England. The Ambassador (in Paris) will, he says, bear witness that,
although unable to particularize, he had given notice two months since
that there was a plot brewing. He adds a significant hint, the like of
which we have already seen: "Should I chance to be apprehended, I will
rest myself upon my honourable Lord."[215]

Meanwhile the English ambassadors abroad were no less active and
vigilant than the informers at home, and while clearly aware that there
was some danger on foot, never doubted that the king's government would
not be caught napping.

On the 9th of October, Sir Thomas Edmondes wrote to Cecil from
Brussels[216] to warn him of suspicious symptoms in the Low Countries;
and on the following day Cecil wrote to Edmondes[217] expressing
apprehensions of trouble from the Jesuits abroad. On the same day,
October 10th, Sir Thomas Parry wrote from Paris to the secretary,[218]
of a petition which the Catholics were preparing against the meeting of
Parliament, "and some further designs upon refusal;" and in another
letter informed Edmondes:[219] "somewhat is at present in hand amongst
these desperate hypocrites, which I trust God shall divert, by the
vigilant care of his Majesty's faithful servants and friends abroad, and
prudence of his council at home."

That such confidence was not misplaced is shown by Cecil's assurance to
Sir Thomas Parry,[220] mentioned above, that the proceedings of the
priests were never unknown to Government.

Amongst the papers at Hatfield is a curious note, anonymous and
undated, giving information of a plot involving murder and treason,
which, like the letter to Monteagle, simulates rather too obviously the
workmanship of an illiterate person, and artfully insinuates that the
design in question is undertaken in the name of religion, and chiefly
favoured by the priests.[221]

Another remarkable document is preserved in the same collection. This is
a letter written to Sir Everard Digby, June 11th, 1605, and treating of
an otter hunt to be undertaken when the hay shall be cut. It has,
however, been endorsed by Salisbury, "Letter written to Sir Everard
Digby--Powder Treason."[222] Not only is it hard to see how the terms
of the document lend themselves to such an interpretation, but the date
at which it was written was fully three months prior to Digby's
initiation in the conspiracy. The idea is certainly suggested that, far
from being passive and indolent, the authorities were sedulously seeking
pretexts to entangle as many as possible of those "great of name,"
concerning whom we have already heard from one of their informers. This
much, at any rate, seems clear. Those at the centre of this complex web
of espionage, to whom were addressed all these informations and
admonitions, cannot have been, as they protested somewhat overmuch, in a
state of careless inactivity, depending for security only upon the
protection of the Almighty, "who," as the secretary afterwards piously
declared, "blessed us in our slumber [and] will not forsake us now that
we are awake."[223]

The slumber would at least appear not to have been dreamless. On the one
hand, the secretary was evidently much exercised by a threatened
_rapprochement_ between his royal master and Pope Clement VIII., who,
through a Scotch Catholic gentleman, Sir James Lindsay, had sent a
friendly message to King James, which had elicited a courteous and
almost cordial reply.[224] The significance of this Cecil strenuously
endeavoured, in a letter to the Duke of Lenox,[225] to explain away, and
in February, 1604-5, we find him assuring the Archbishop of York with an
earnestness somewhat suspicious,[226] "I love not to procure or yield
any toleration; a matter which I well know no creature living durst
propound to our religious Sovereign." For himself, he thus declares: "I
will be much less than I am, or rather nothing at all, before I shall
become an instrument of such a miserable change." Nevertheless, on the
17th of April following, he was fain to acknowledge, in writing to
Parry,[227] that the news of Pope Clement's death had much eased him in
his mind.

It would, however, appear that the spectre of possible toleration still
haunted him, and that he felt it necessary to commit the king to a
course of severity. In a minute of September 12th, 1605, addressed to
the same ambassador, which has been corrected and amended with an amount
of care sufficiently testifying to the importance of the subject,[228]
after speaking of "the plots and business of the priests," and the
tendency of Englishmen going abroad "in this time of peace" to become
Catholics, he thus continues: "Only this is it wherein my own heart
receiveth comfort, that we live under a most religious and understanding
Prince, who sticketh not to publish, as well in his own particular, as
in the form of his government, how contrary that religion is to his
resolution, and how far he will be from ever gracing [it]." He goes on
to declare that nothing will so avail to make his Majesty withdraw his
countenance from any man as such "falling away."

About the same time as this was written, we are told by a writer, almost
a contemporary,[229] that a dependent of Cecil's warned a Catholic
gentleman, by name Buck, of a "wicked design" which his master had in
hand against the papists.

On the 17th of October, more than a week before the first hint of danger
is said to have been breathed, we find the minister writing to Sir
Thomas Edmondes, at Brussels,[230] in terms which certainly appear to
couple together the growing danger of conversions to Catholicism, of
which we have heard above, and the remedy soon to be supplied by the new
policy which the discovery of the Plot so effectively established. He
speaks of the "insolencies" of the priests and Jesuits, who are doing
much injury by infecting with their poison "every youth that cometh
amongst them;" ominously adding, "which liberty must, for one cause or
another, be retrenched."

There can be no doubt that the issue of the Gunpowder Plot was eminently
calculated to work such an effect; and even more would seem to have
been anticipated from it than was actually realized, for the secretary,
we are told, promised King James that in consequence of it not a single
Jesuit should remain in England.

In the accounts supplied to us as to the manner of the "discovery," we
obtain much interesting information from the utterances of the
government itself. In studying these we cannot fail to notice an evident
effort to reconcile two conflicting interests. On the one hand, that the
king and the nation should be properly impressed with a sense of their
marvellous deliverance, it was essential to represent the catastrophe as
having been imminent, which could not be unless the preparations for it
had been altogether unsuspected; and it was likewise desirable to
magnify the divine sagacity of the monarch, which had been the
instrument of Providence to avert a disaster otherwise inevitable. On
the other hand, however, it should not be made to appear that those to
whose keeping the public safety was intrusted had shown themselves
culpably negligent or incompetent; and it had therefore to be insinuated
that, after all, they were not without "sufficient advertisement" of
danger, and even of danger specifically connected with the actual
conspirators, and directed against the Parliament. But, again, lest such
information should appear suspiciously accurate, the actual plotters had
to be merged in a larger body of their co-religionists, and their design
to be represented in vague and general terms. At the time, no doubt,
this was effective enough. Now however that we know, by the light of
subsequent investigations, who exactly were engaged, and what was in
hand, it is possible to estimate these declarations at their true

Except with the aid of such an explanation as this, it seems impossible
to understand the endless inconsistencies and contradictions of the
official narrative. This we have in four forms, all coming to us on the
highest authority, but addressed to different audiences, and hopelessly
at variance upon almost every point. One is that given to the world as
the "King's Book,"[232] containing, as Mr. Jardine tells us, the version
which it was desired that the general public should accept. A second was
furnished by Cecil himself to the ambassadors at Madrid and Brussels,
and the Lord Deputy in Ireland,[233] and a third to the ambassador at
Paris.[234] We have likewise the minute of November 7th, already
mentioned as perhaps intended for the information of the Privy Council,
which, although it has seemingly served as the basis of the story told
in the "King's Book," contradicts that story in various not unimportant

We shall afterwards have to examine in some detail the divergencies of
these several narratives: at present we are concerned only with the
intimation which they afford of a previous knowledge of the Plot on the
part of the government. In the "King's Book"--which was not only to be
disseminated broadcast at home, but to be translated and spread abroad,
and, moreover, to be suited to the taste of its supposed author--the
preternatural acuteness of the monarch is extolled in terms of most
preposterous flattery, and his secretary is represented as altogether
incredulous of danger, and unwilling to be convinced even by his royal
master's wonderful interpretation of the mysterious warning.
Nevertheless, not only is mention parenthetically introduced of the
minister's "customable and watchful care of the king and State, boiling
within him," of his laying up these things in his heart, "like the
Blessed Virgin Mary," and being unable to rest till he had followed the
matter farther,--but it is dexterously intimated that, for all his
hardness of belief, he was sufficiently well informed before the warning
came to hand, and that "this accident did put him in mind of divers
advertisements he had received from beyond the seas, wherewith he had
acquainted as well the king himself, as divers of his Privy Councillors,
concerning some business the Papists were in, both at home and abroad,
making combination amongst them for some combination against this
Parliament time," their object being to approach the king with a
petition for toleration, "which should be delivered in some such order,
and so well backed, as the king should be loth to refuse their
requests; like the sturdy beggars craving alms with one open hand, but
carrying a stone in the other, in case of refusal."

As prepared for the Privy Council, the account, though substantially the
same, was somewhat more explicit. The secretary was fully aware, so the
Lords were told, "that some practices might be doubted," and he "had,
any time these three months, acquainted the King, and some of his
Majesty's inward Counsellors, that the priests and laymen abroad and at
home were full of the papists of this kingdom, seeking still to lay some
_plot_ for procuring at this Parliament exercise of their religion."

In his letter to the ambassadors Cecil was able to speak more plainly,
for this document was not to meet the eye of James. Accordingly, he not
only acknowledges that on seeing the Monteagle letter he at once divined
the truth, and understood all about the powder, and moreover reverses
the parts played by his Majesty and himself--making the former
incredulous in spite of what he himself could urge in support of his
opinion--but he goes on to give his previous information a far more
definite complexion: "Not but that I had sufficient advertisement that
most of these that now are fled [_i.e._ the conspirators]--being all
notorious Recusants--with many others of that kind, had a practice in
hand for some stir this Parliament." He, moreover, describes the
plotters, in terms already cited, as "gentlemen spent in their fortunes
and fit for all alterations."

In view of all this it is quite impossible to believe the account given
of themselves by those who were responsible for the public safety, and
to suppose that they were not only so neglectful of their duty, but so
incredibly foolish, and so unlike themselves, as to permit a gross and
palpable peril to approach unnoticed. If, on the other hand, as appears
to be certain, the information with which they were supplied were
copious and minute, erring by excess far more than by defect, if,
instead of lethargy and carelessness, we find in their conduct, at every
stage of the proceedings, evidence of the extremest vigilance and of
constant activity, and if they held it of prime importance to disguise
the facts, and were willing to incur the charge of having been asleep at
their posts, rather than let it be thought that they knew what they did,
it can scarcely be doubted that the history of the Gunpowder Plot given
to the world was in its essential features what they wished it to

A practical illustration of the methods freely employed by statesmen of
the period will serve to throw fuller light upon this portion of our
inquiry. In the service of the government was one Thomas Phelippes,[236]
by trade a "decipherer," who was employed to "make English" of
intercepted letters written in cipher. His services had been largely
used in connection with Mary, Queen of Scots, some of whose letters he
thus interpreted, having it in his power, as Mr. Tytler remarks, to
garble or falsify them at pleasure.[237] Moreover, to serve the purposes
of his masters, as he himself acknowledges,[238] he had upon occasion
forged one side of a correspondence, in order to induce the person
addressed to commit himself in reply.[239] At the time of the Gunpowder
Plot, however, Phelippes had himself fallen under suspicion, on account
of a correspondence with Hugh Owen, of whom we shall hear elsewhere.
Accordingly, an attempt was made to hoist him with his own petard, and
another agent, named Barnes, was employed by Cecil to write a letter, as
coming from Phelippes (who was then in England) and carry it to Owen in
Flanders in order to draw him out. At Dover, however, Barnes was
arrested, being mistaken for another man for whom a watch was being
kept. Thereupon, his papers being seized and sent to the Earl of
Northampton, who appears not to have been in the secret of this matter,
Cecil was obliged to arrest Phelippes at once, as though the letter were
genuine, instead of waiting, as he had intended, in order to worm out

The story of this complex and crooked business is frankly told by Cecil
himself in a letter to Edmondes, English ambassador at Brussels, which,
after the above abstract, will be sufficiently intelligible.[240]

"As for Barnes, he is now returning again into Flanders, with many vows
and promises to continue to do good service. As he was at Dover with my
pass, carrying a letter from Philipps to Owen (of Barnes own
handwriting, wherewith I was before acquainted), he was suddenly stayed
by order from the Lord Warden, upon suspicion that he was one Acton, a
traitor of the late conspiracy.... Whereupon, his papers and letters
being sent to my Lord of Northampton, I thought fit not to defer any
longer the calling of Philipps into question; which till then I had
forborne, hoping by Barnes his means to have discovered some further
matter than before I could do."


[200] He appears to have been no relation of John and Christopher
Wright, the conspirators.

[201] Davies was employed in other affairs of a similar nature. See
_Dom. James I._, xix. 83, I (P.R.O.).

[202] Cf. a "setter dog."

[203] See the full text of Wright's letter, Appendix G.

[204] See the text of the memorial, Appendix G.

[205] Copy in the P.R.O. _Dom. James I._ vii. 86, and xx. 52. The
informer's name is given in the latter, viz., Ralph Ratcliffe.

[206] It was likewise cited in the interrogatories prepared for the
Jesuit Thomas Strange (Brit. Mus. _MSS. Add._ 6178, 74) in November,
1605, and in this case also as treating of the Gunpowder Plot and no

[207] _Illustrations_, iii. 301.

[208] P.R.O. _France_, b. 132.

[209] _Ibid._

[210] P.R.O. _France_, bundle 132.

[211] _Ibid._ f. 273 b.

[212] Hatfield MSS. 112, n. 141.

[213] P.R.O. _Gunpowder Plot Book_, 16.

[214] November 10th, 1605, _Dom. James I._ xvi. 44.

[215] At a later period (July 20th, 1606) we find that Southwaick ("or
Southwell") had lost favour and was warned by Salisbury to leave the
country. "I hold him," says the Earl, "to be a very impostor." (_To
Edmondes_, Phillipps MS. f. 165.)

[216] Stowe MSS., 168, 39.

[217] _Ibid._ 40.

[218] _Ibid._ 42.

[219] Birch, _Historical View_, p. 234.

[220] P.R.O. _France_, bundle 132, January 25th, 1604-5.

[221] "Who so evar finds this box of letars let him carry hit to the
Kings magesty: my mastar litel thinks I knows of this, but yn ridinge
wth him that browt the letar to my mastar to a Katholyk gentlemans hows
anward of his way ynto lin konsher [Lincolnshire], he told me al his
purpos, and what he ment to do; and he beinge a prest absolved me and
mad me swar nevar to revel hit to ane man. I confes myself a Katholyk,
and do hate the protystans relygon with my hart, and yit I detest to
consent ethar to murdar or treson. I have blotyd out sartyn nams in the
letars becas I wold not have ethar my mastar or ane of his frends trobyl
aboute this; for by his menes I was mad a goud Katholyk, and I wod to
God the King war a good Katholyk: that is all the harm I wish him; and
let him tak hed what petysons or suplycasons he take of ane man; and I
hop this box will be found by som that will giv hit to the King, hit may
do him good one day. I men not to com to my mastar any moe, but wil
return unto my contry from whens I cam. As for my nam and contry I
consel that; and God make the King a goud Katholyk; and let Ser Robart
Sesil and my lord Cohef Gustyse lok to them selvse." (Printed in
Appendix to _Third Report of Historical MSS. Commission_, p. 148.)

[222] It is signed "G.D.," and was possibly written by a relation of Sir

[223] To Sir H. Bruncard, March 3rd, 1605-6. P.R.O. _Ireland_, vol.

[224] "Instructions to my trusty servant Sir James Lindsay, for answer
to the lettre and Commission brought by him from the Pope unto me."
A^o 1604. (P.R.O. _France_, b. 132.)

In these notes the king explains that the things of greatest import
cannot be written, but have been imparted "by tongue" to the envoy, to
be delivered to his holiness. Moreover he thus charges Lindsay: "You
shall assure him that I shall never be forgetful of the continual proof
I have had of his courtesy and long inclination towards me, and
especially by this his so courteous and unexpected message, which I
shall be careful to requite thankfully by all civil courtesies that
shall be in my power, the particulars whereof I remit likewise to your
declaration." Besides this, he protests that he will ever inviolably
observe two points: first, never to dissemble what he thinks, especially
in matters of conscience; secondly, never to reject reason when he hears
it urged on the other side.

[225] P.R.O. _France_, b. 132.

[226] Lodge, _Illustrations_, iii. 262.

[227] P.R.O. _France_, b. 132.

[228] _Ibid._

[229] _The Politician's Catechism_, 1658.

[230] Birch, _Historical View_, p. 234.

[231] "If the Priestes and Catholickes, so many thousands in England
would have entertayned it, no man can be so malicious and simple to
thinke but there would have been a greater assembly than fourscore [in
the Midlands] to take such an action in hand, and the Council could not
be so winking eyed, but they would have found forth some one or other
culpable, which they could never do, though some of them, most powerable
in it, tendered and racked forth their hatred against us to the
uttermost limites they could extend." _English Protestants' plea_, p.

[232] _Discourse of the manner of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot._
Printed in the Collected Works of King James, by Bishop Mountague, by
Bishop Barlow, in _Gunpowder Treason_, and in Cobbett's _State Trials_,
as an appendix to that of the conspirators.

[233] _I.e._, Cornwallis, Edmondes, and Chichester. The despatch to
Cornwallis is printed in Winwood's _Memorials_, ii. 170.

[234] Sir Thoms Parry, P.R.O. _France_, bundle 132.

[235] Mr. Hepworth Dixon observes (_Her Majesty's Tower_, i. 352,
seventh edition) that a man must have been in no common measure ignorant
of Cecil and Northampton who could dream that such a design could escape
the greatest masters of intrigue alive, and that abundant evidence makes
it clear that the Council were informed of the Plot in almost every
stage, and that their agents dogged the footsteps of those whom they
suspected, taking note of all their proceedings. "It was no part of
Cecil's policy," adds Mr. Dixon, "to step in before the dramatic time."

[236] Often called Phelipps, or Philipps.

[237] _History of Scotland_, iii. 376, note (ed. Eadie). It was on one
of these letters which had been in the hands of Phelippes that Mary was

[238] _Dom. James I._ xx. 51. April, 1606.

[239] In the fragment cited above, Phelippes says that Queen Elizabeth
and the Earl of Essex largely availed themselves of this device of his,
and that "My Lord of Salisbury had himself made some use of it in the
Queen's time."

[240] February 12th, 1605-6. (Stowe MSS. 168.)



WHEN the conspirators first undertook their enterprise, Parliament was
appointed to meet on February 7th, 1604-5, but, as has been seen, it was
subsequently prorogued till October 3rd, and then again till Tuesday,
November 5th. On occasion of the October prorogation, the confederates
employed Thomas Winter to attend the ceremony in order to learn from the
demeanour of the assembled Peers whether any suspicion of their design
had suggested this unexpected adjournment. He returned to report that no
symptom could be discerned of alarm or uneasiness, and that the presence
of the volcano underfoot was evidently unsuspected. Thus reassured, his
associates awaited with confidence the advent of the fatal Fifth.

In the interval occurred the event which forms the official link
connecting the secret and the public history of the Plot, namely, the
receipt of the letter of warning by Lord Monteagle. That the document is
of supreme importance in our history cannot be denied, for the
government account clearly stands or falls with the assertion that this
was in reality the means whereby the impending catastrophe was averted.
That it was so, the official story proclaimed from the first with a
vehemence in itself suspicious, and the famous letter was exhibited to
the world with a persistence and solicitude not easy to explain; being
printed in the "King's Book," and in every other account of the affair;
while transcribed copies were sent to the ambassadors at foreign courts
and other public personages.[241] Had a warning really been given, in
such a case, to save the life of a kinsman or friend, the circumstance,
however fortunate, would scarcely have been wonderful, nor can we think
that the document would thus have been multiplied for inspection. If, on
the other hand, it had been carefully contrived for its purpose, it
would not be unnatural for those who knew where the weak point lay, to
wish the world to be convinced that there really had been a letter. It
is, moreover, not easy to understand the importance attributed to
Monteagle's service in connection with it. To have handed to the
authorities such a message, evidently of an alarming nature, though he
himself did not professedly understand it, does not appear to have
entitled him to the extraordinary consideration which he in fact
received. The Attorney General was specially instructed, at the trial,
to extol his lordship's conduct.[242] Wherever, in the confession of the
conspirators, his name was mentioned, it was erased, or pasted over with
paper, or the whole passage was omitted before publication of the
document. All this is easy to understand if he were the instrument
employed for a critical and delicate transaction, depending for success
upon his discretion and reticence. On any other supposition it seems


    The gallant _Eagle_, soaring vp on high:
    Beares in his beake, _Treasons_ discouery.
    MOVNT, noble EAGLE, with thy happy prey,
    And thy rich _Prize_ to th' _King_ with speed conuay.]

Moreover, Monteagle's services received most substantial acknowledgment
in the form of a grant of £700 a year,[243] equivalent, at least, to
ten times that amount in money of the present day.[244] There still
exists[245] the draft preamble of the grant making this award, which has
been altered and emended with an amount of care which sufficiently
testifies to the importance of the matter. In this it is said of the
letter that by the knowledge thereof "we had the first _and only_ means
to discover that most wicked and barbarous plot"--the words italicised
being added as an interlineation by Cecil himself. Nevertheless, it
appears certain that this is not, and cannot be, the truth; indeed,
historians of all shades equally discountenance the idea. Mr.
Jardine[246] considers it "hardly credible that the letter was really
the means by which the plot was discovered," and inclines to the
belief[247] that the whole story concerning it "was merely a device of
the government ... to conceal the means by which their information had
been derived." Similarly Mr. J.S. Brewer[248] holds it as certain that
this part, at least, of the story is a fiction designed to conceal the
truth. Mr. Gardiner, who is less inclined than others to give up the
received story, thinks that, to say the least of it, it is highly
probable that Monteagle expected the letter before it came.[249]

For a right understanding of the point it is necessary to consider the
character of the man who plays so important a part in this episode. Lord
Monteagle, the eldest son of Lord Morley, ennobled under a title derived
through his mother, was, in Mr. Jardine's opinion,[250] "a person
precisely adapted for an instrument on such an occasion;" and the
description appears even more applicable than was intended. He had been
implicated in all the doings of the turbulent section of the English
Catholics[251] for several years, having taken part in the rising of
Essex, and in the Spanish negotiations, whatever they were, conducted
through the instrumentality of Thomas Winter. With Catesby, and others
of the conspirators, he was on terms of the closest and most intimate
friendship, and Tresham was his brother-in-law. A letter of his to
Catesby is still preserved, which, in the opinion of some, affords
evidence of his having been actually engaged in the Powder Plot
itself;[252] and Mr. Jardine, though dissenting from the view that the
letter proves so much, judges it not at all impossible or improbable
that he was in fact privy to the conspiracy. It is likewise certain that
up to the last moment Monteagle was on familiar terms with the plotters,
to whom, a few days before the final catastrophe, he imparted an
important piece of information.[253]

At the same time it is evident that Monteagle was in high favour at
Court, as is sufficiently evidenced by the fact that he was appointed to
be one of the commissioners for the prorogation of October 3rd, a most
unusual distinction for one in his position, as also by the pains taken
by the government on behalf of his brother, who had shortly before got
himself into trouble in France.[254] A still more remarkable
circumstance has been strangely overlooked by historians.[255] Monteagle
always passed for a Catholic, turbulent indeed and prone to violence,
but attached, even fanatically, to his creed, like his friend Catesby
and the rest. There remains, however, an undated letter of his to the
king,[256] in which he expresses his determination to become a
Protestant; and while in fulsome language extolling his Majesty's zeal
for his spiritual welfare, speaks with bitterness and contempt of the
faith which, nevertheless, he continued to profess to the end of his
life, and that without exciting suspicion of his deceit among the
Catholics. Not only must this shake our confidence in the genuine
nature of any transaction in which such a man played a prominent part,
it must likewise suggest a doubt whether others may not in like manner
have passed themselves off for what they were not, without arousing

The precise facts as to the actual receipt of the famous letter are
involved, like every other particular of this history, in the obscurity
begotten of contradictory evidence. In the published account,[257] it is
stated with great precision that it was received by Monteagle on
Saturday, October 26th, being but ten days before the Parliament. In his
letter to the ambassadors abroad,[258] Cecil dates its receipt "about
eight days before the Parliament should have begun." In the account
furnished for the benefit of the King of France,[259] the same authority
declares that it came to hand "some four or five days before." A doubt
is thus unquestionably suggested as to whether the circumstances of its
coming to Monteagle's hands are those traditionally described: for our
present purpose, however, it will perhaps be sufficient to follow the
story as formally told by authority in the king's own book.

On Saturday, October 26th, ten days before the assembly of Parliament,
Monteagle suddenly, and without previous notice, ordered a supper to be
prepared at his house at Hoxton "where he had not supped or lain of a
twelvemonth and more before that time."[260] While he was at table one
of his pages brought him a letter which had been given to him by a man
in the street, whose features he could not distinguish, with injunctions
to place it in his master's own hands. It is undoubtedly a singular
circumstance, which did not escape notice at the time, that the bearer
of this missive should have thus been able to find Monteagle at a spot
which he was not accustomed to frequent, and the obvious inference was
drawn, that the arrival of the letter was expected. On this point,
indeed, there is somewhat more than inference to go upon, for in
Fulman's MS. collection at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, among some
interesting notes concerning the Plot, of which we shall see more,
occurs the statement that "the Lord Monteagle knew there was a letter to
be sent to him before it came."[261]

Monteagle opened the letter, and, glancing at it, perceived that it bore
neither date nor signature, whereupon he handed it to a gentleman of his
household, named Ward, to read aloud, an apparently unnatural and
imprudent proceeding not easy to explain, but, at least, inconsistent
with the conduct of one receiving an obviously important communication
in such mysterious circumstances. The famous epistle must be given in
its native form.

    _My lord out of the love i beare to some of youere frends i have a
    caer of youer preseruacion therfor i would advyse yowe as yowe
    tender youer lyf to devys some excuse to shift of youer attendance
    at this parleament for god and man hath concurred to punishe the
    wickednes of this tyme and think not slightlye of this advertisment
    but retyre youre self into youre contri wheare yowe may expect the
    event in safti for thowghe theare be no apparence of anni stir yet i
    saye they shall receyve a terrible blowe this parleament and yet
    they shall not seie who hurts them this cowncel is not to be
    contemned because it maye do yowe good and can do yowe no harme for
    the dangere is passed as soon as yowe have burnt the letter and i
    hope god will give yowe the grace to mak good use of it to whose
    holy proteccion i comend yowe_

    (Addressed) _to the ryht honorable the lord mo[=u]teagle_

Monteagle, though he saw little or nothing in this strange effusion,
resolved at once to communicate with the king's ministers, his Majesty
being at the time engaged at Royston in his favourite pastime of the
chase, and accordingly proceeding at once to town, he placed the
mysterious document in the hands of the Earl of Salisbury.[262]

As to what thereafter followed and the manner in which from this clue
the discovery was actually accomplished, it is impossible to say more
than this, that the accounts handed down cannot by any possibility be
true, inasmuch as on every single point they are utterly and hopelessly
at variance. We can do no more than set down the particulars as supplied
to us on the very highest authority.

A.--_The account published in the "King's Book."_

1. The letter was received ten days before the meeting of Parliament,
_i.e._, on October 26th.

2. The Earl of Salisbury judged it to be the effusion of a lunatic, but
thought it well, nevertheless, to communicate it to the king.

3. This was done five days afterwards, November 1st, when, in spite of
his minister's incredulity, James insisted that the letter could intend
nothing but the blowing up of the Parliament with gunpowder, and that a
search must be made, which, however, should be postponed till the last

4. Accordingly, on the afternoon of Monday, November 4th, the Lord
Chamberlain going on a tour of inspection, visited the "cellar" and
found there "great store of billets, faggots, and coals," and moreover,
"casting his eye aside, perceived a fellow standing in a corner ...
Guido Fawkes the owner of that hand which should have acted that
monstrous tragedy." Coming back, the chamberlain reported that the
provision of fuel appeared extraordinary, and that as to the man, "he
looked like a very tall and desperate fellow."

5. Thereupon the king insisted that a thorough scrutiny must be made,
and that "those billets and coals should be searched to the bottom, it
being most suspicious that they were laid there only for covering of the
powder." For this purpose Sir Thomas Knyvet, a magistrate, was
despatched with a suitable retinue.

6. Before his entrance to the house, Knyvet found Faukes "standing
without the doors, his boots and clothes on," and straightway
apprehended him. Then, going into the cellar, he removed the firewood
and at once discovered the barrels.

B.--_The Account sent by Salisbury to the Ambassadors abroad, and the
Deputy in Ireland, November 9th, 1605._

1. The letter was received about _eight_ days before the Parliament.

2. Upon perusal thereof, Salisbury and Suffolk, the chamberlain, "both
conceived that it could not be more proper than the time of Parliament,
nor by any other way to be attempted than with powder, while the King
was sitting in that Assembly." With this interpretation other Lords of
the Council agreed; but they thought it well not to impart the matter to
the king till three or four days before the session.

3. His Majesty was "hard of belief" that any such thing was intended,
but his advisers overruled him and insisted on a search, not however
till the last moment.

[Illustration: ARREST OF GUY FAUKES.]

4. About 3 o'clock on the afternoon of Monday, November 4th, the Lord
Chamberlain, Suffolk, visited the cellar, and found in it only firewood
and not Faukes.

5. The lords however insisting, in spite of the king, that the matter
should be probed to the bottom, Knyvet was despatched with orders to
"_remove all the wood, and so to see the plain ground underneath_."

6. Knyvet, about midnight, "going unlooked for into the vault, found
that fellow Johnson [_i.e._, Faukes] _newly come out of the vault_," and
seized him. Then, having removed the wood, he perceived the barrels.

C.--_The Account furnished by Salisbury for the information of the King
of France, November 6th, 1605. (Original draft, in the P.R.O.)_

1. The letter was received _some four or five days_ before the

2. This being shown to the king and the lords, "their lordships found
not good ... to give much credit to it, nor yet so to contemn it as to
do nothing at all."

3. It was accordingly determined, the night before, "to make search
about that place and to appoint a watch in the old Palace, to observe
what persons might resort thereabouts."

4. Sir T. Knyvet, being appointed to the charge thereof, _going by
chance, about midnight, into the vault, by another door, found Faukes
within_. Thereupon he caused some few faggots to be removed, and so
discovered some of the barrels, "_merely, as it were, by God's
direction, having no other cause but a general jealousy_."[263]

Never, assuredly, was a true story so hard to tell. Contradictions like
these, upon every single point of the narrative, are just such as are
wont to betray the author of a fiction when compelled to be

To say nothing of the curious discrepancies as to the date of the
warning, it is clearly impossible to determine the locality of Guy's
arrest. The account officially published in the "King's Book" says that
this took place in the street. The letter to the ambassadors assigns it
to the cellar and afterwards to the street; that to Parry, to the cellar
only. Faukes himself, in his confession of November 5th, says that he
was apprehended neither in the street nor in the cellar, but in his own
room in the adjoining house. Chamberlain writes to Carleton, November
7th, that it was in the cellar. Howes, in his continuation of Stowe's
_Annals_, describes two arrests of Faukes, one in the street, the other
upstairs in his own chamber. This point, though seemingly somewhat
trivial, has been invested with much importance. According to the
time-honoured story, the baffled desperado roundly declared that had he
been within reach of the powder when his captors appeared, he would
have applied a match and involved them in his own destruction. This
circumstance is strongly insisted on not only in the "King's Book," but
also in his Majesty's speech to Parliament on November 9th, which
declared, "and in that also was there a wonderful providence of God,
that when the party himself was taken he was but new come out of his
house from working, having his fire-work for kindling ready in his
pocket, wherewith, as he confesseth, if he been taken immediately
before, he was resolved to have blown up himself with his takers." We
learn, however, from Cecil's earliest version of the history, that
Faukes was apprehended in the very situation most suitable for such a
purpose, "in the place itself, as he was busy to prepare his things for
execution," while Chamberlain adds that he was actually engaged in
"making his trains."

Far more serious, to say nothing of the episode of the chamberlain's
visit, are the divergencies of the several versions as to the very
substance of the story. We are told that King James was the first to
understand and interpret the letter which had baffled the sagacity of
his Privy Council; that the Lords of the Council had fully interpreted
it several days before the king saw it; that the said lords would not
credit the king's interpretation; that the king would not believe their
interpretation; and that neither the one nor the other ever interpreted
it at all; that his Majesty insisted on a search being made in spite of
the reluctance of his ministers; that they insisted on the search in
spite of the reluctance of their royal master; and that no such search
was ever proposed by either; that Knyvet was despatched expressly to
look for gunpowder, with instructions to rummage the firewood to the
bottom, leaving no cover in which a barrel might lie hid; and that
having no instructions to do anything of the kind, nor any reason to
suspect the existence of any barrels, he discovered them only by a piece
of luck, so purely fortuitous as to be clearly providential. On this
last point especially the contradictions are absolutely irreconcilable.

It is abundantly evident that those who with elaborate care produced
these various versions were not supremely solicitous about the truth of
the matter, and varied the tale according to the requirements of
circumstances. As Mr. Jardine acknowledges,[264] the great object of the
official accounts was to obtain credence for what the government wished
to be believed, or, as Father Gerard puts it,[265] these accounts were
composed "with desire that men should all conceive this to be the manner
how the treason came to light." If from time to time the details were
altogether transformed, it was clearly not through any abstract love of
historical accuracy, but rather that there were difficulties to meet and
doubts to satisfy, which had to be dealt with in order to produce the
desired effect.

That, from the beginning, there was whispered disbelief, which it was
held all-important to silence, is sufficiently attested by Cecil
himself, when, on the very morrow of the discovery, he sent to Parry his
first draft of the history. "Thus much," he wrote, "I have thought
necessary to impart unto you in haste, to the end that you may deliver
as much to the French king, for prevention of false bruits, which I
know, as the nature of fame is, will be _increased_,[266] perverted, and
disguised according to the disposition of men."

It does not appear why the appearance of erroneous versions of so
striking an event should have been thus confidently anticipated if the
facts were undeniably established; while, on the other hand, it is not a
little remarkable that the narrative thus expressly designed to
establish the truth, should have been forthwith abandoned and
contradicted by its author in every single particular.

Important information upon the same point is furnished by Cecil in
another letter, written in the following January.[267] He undertakes to
explain to his correspondent how it came to pass that a circumstance of
supreme importance, of which the government were fully cognizant,[268]
was not mentioned in the official account. This he does as follows: "And
although in his Majesty's book there is not any mention made of them
[the Jesuits], and of many things else which came to the knowledge of
the State, yet is it but a frivolous inference that thereby [they] seek
to serve their turn, considering the purpose of his Majesty was not to
deliver unto the world all that was confessed concerning this action,
_but so much only of the manner and form of it, and the means of the
discovery_, as might make it apparent, both how wickedly it was
conceived by those devilish instruments, and _how graciously it pleased
God to deal with us in such an extraordinary discovery thereof_."

Turning to the details of the story which survive the struggle for
existence in the conflict of testimony, if any can be said to do so,
there is abundant matter deserving attention, albeit we may at once
dismiss the time-honoured legend concerning the sagacity of the British
Solomon, and his marvellous interpretation of the riddling phrases which
baffled the perspicacity of all besides himself.[269]

More important is Cecil's admission that the presence of the powder
under the Parliament House was at least suspected for several days
before anything was done to interfere with the proceedings of those who
had put it there. The reasons alleged for so extraordinary a course are
manifestly absurd. It was resolved, he told the ambassadors, "that, till
the night before, nothing should be done to interrupt any purpose of
theirs that had any such devilish practice, but rather to suffer them to
go on to the end of their day." In like manner he informed the Privy
Council[270] that it was determined to make no earlier search, that
"such as had such practice in hand might not be scared before they had
let the matter run on to a full ripeness for discovery." It certainly
appears that, at least, it would have been well before the eleventh hour
to institute observations as to who might be coming and going about the
cellar. On the other hand, can it be imagined that any minister in his
right senses would have allowed the existence of a danger so appalling
to continue so long, and have suffered a desperado like Faukes to have
gone on knocking about with his flint and steel and lantern in a powder
magazine beneath the House of Parliament? Accidents are proverbially
always possible, and in the circumstances described to us there would
have been much more than a mere possibility, for the action said to have
been taken by the authorities, in sending the chamberlain to "peruse"
the vault, seems to have been expressly intended to give the alarm; and
had the conspirators been scared it would evidently have been their
safest plan to have precipitated the catastrophe, that in the confusion
it would cause they might escape. How terrible such a catastrophe would
have been is indicated by Father Greenway:[271] "Over and above the
grievous loss involved in the destruction of these ancient and noble
buildings, of the archives and national records, the king himself might
have been in peril, and other royal edifices, though situate at a
distance, and undoubtedly many would have perished who had come up to
attend the Parliament." Moreover, the loss of life in so thickly
populated a spot must have been frightful, and especially amongst the
official classes.

Father Greenway expresses his utter disbelief in the incident of the
chamberlain's visit:[272] "To speak my own mind," he writes, "I do not
see in this portion of the story any sort of probability." He adds
another remark of great importance. If the Lord Chamberlain,--and, we
may add, Sir T. Knyvet,--could get into the cellar without the
assistance of Faukes, to say nothing of the "other door" which makes its
appearance in Cecil's first version, there is an end of the secret and
hidden nature of the place, and some one else must have had a key. How,
then, about the months during which the powder had been lying in it;
during much of which time it had been, apparently, left to take care of
itself? Did no man ever enter and inspect it before?

But questions far more fundamental inevitably suggest themselves. If,
during ten, or even during five days, a minister so astute and vigilant
was willing to risk the danger of an explosion, it certainly does not
appear that he was much afraid of the powder, or thought there was any
harm in it. We have already remarked on the strangeness of the
circumstance that the plotters were able so easily to procure it. It may
be observed that they appear themselves to have been disappointed with
its quality, for we are told[273] that late in the summer they added to
their store "as suspecting the former to be dank." Still more
remarkable, however, was the conduct of the government. Immediately upon
the "discovery" they instituted the most minute and searching inquiries
as to every other particular connected with the conspirators. We find
copious evidence taken about their haunts, their lodgings, and their
associates: of the boatmen who conveyed them hither and thither, the
porters who carried billets, and the carpenters who worked for them:
inquiries were diligently instituted as to where were purchased the iron
bars laid on top of the barrels, which appear to have been considered
especially dangerous; we hear of sword-hilts engraved for some of the
company, of three beaver hats bought by another, and of the sixpence
given to the boy who brought them home. But concerning the gunpowder no
question appears ever to have been asked, whence it came, or who
furnished it. Yet this would appear to be a point at least as important
as the rest, and if it was left in absolute obscurity, the inference is
undoubtedly suggested that it was not wished to have questions raised.
It may be added that no mention is discoverable of the augmentation of
the royal stores by so notable a contribution as this would have

Neither can it escape observation that whereas the powder was discovered
only on the morning[274] of November 5th, the peers met as usual in
their chamber that very day.[275] It cannot be supposed either that four
tons of powder could have been so soon removed, or that the most
valuable persons in the State would have been suffered to expose
themselves to the risk of assembling in so perilous a situation.[276]

However this may be, from the moment of the "discovery" the discovered
gunpowder disappears from history.[277]


_Coins_ in King James I. Reign; _with the Discovery of the_ Gun Powder

There is another point which must be noticed. It might naturally be
supposed that after so narrow an escape, and in accordance with their
loud protestations of alarm at the proximity of a shocking calamity from
which they had been so providentially delivered, the official
authorities would have carefully guarded against the possibility of the
like happening again. Their acts, however, were quite inconsistent with
their words, for they did nothing of the kind. For more than seventy
years afterwards the famous "cellar" continued to be leased in the same
easy-going fashion to any who chose to hire it, and continued to be the
receptacle of all manner of rubbish and lumber, eminently suited to
mask another battery. Not till the days of the mendacious Titus Oates,
and under the influence of the panic he had engendered, did the Peers
bethink themselves that a project such as that of Guy Faukes might
really be a danger, and command that the "cellar" should be
searched.[278] This was done, in November, 1678, by no less personages
than Sir Christopher Wren and Sir Jonas Moore, who reported that the
vaults and cellars under and near the House of Lords were in such a
condition that there could be no assurance of safety. It was accordingly
ordered that they should be cleared of all timber, firewood, coals, and
other materials, and that passages should be made through them all, to
the end that they might easily be examined. At this time, and not
before, was instituted the traditional searching of the cellars on the
eve of Parliament.[279]

What then, it will be asked, really did occur? What was done by the
conspirators? and what by those who discovered them?

Truth to tell, it is difficult, or rather impossible, to answer such
questions. That there was a plot of some kind cannot, of course, be
doubted; that it was of such a nature as we have been accustomed to
believe, can be affirmed only if we are willing to ignore difficulties
which are by no means slight. There is, doubtless, a mass of evidence in
support of the traditional story upon these points, but while its value
has yet to be discussed, there are other considerations, hitherto
overlooked, which are in conflict with it.

Something has been said of the amazing contradictions which a very
slight examination of the official story reveals at every turn, and much
more might be added under the same head.[280]

[Illustration: "GUY FAUKES' LANTERN."]

On the other hand it is clear that even as to the material facts there
was not at the time that unanimity which might have been expected. We
have seen how anxious was the Secretary of State that the French court
should at once be rightly informed as to all particulars. We learn,
however, from Mr. Dudley Carleton, then attached to the embassy at
Paris,[281] that in spite of Cecil's promptitude he was anticipated by a
version of the affair sent over from the French embassy in London,
giving an utterly different complexion to it. According to this, the
design had been, "That the council being set, and some lords besides in
the chamber, a barrel of gunpowder should be fired underneath them, and
the greater part, if not all, blown up." According to this informant,
therefore, it was not the Parliament House but the Council Chamber which
was to have been assailed, there is no mention of the king, and we have
one barrel of powder instead of thirty-six. It is not easy to understand
how in such a matter a mistake like this could have been made, for it is
the inevitable tendency of men to begin by exaggerating, and not by
minimizing, a sudden and startling peril.[282]

Moreover, even this modest version of the affair was not suffered to
pass unchallenged. Three days later Carleton again wrote:[283] "The fire
which was said to have burnt our king and council, and hath been so hot
these two days past in every man's mouth, proves but _ignis fatuus_, or
a flash of some foolish fellow's brain to abuse the world; for it is now
as confidently reported there was no such matter, nor anything near it
more than a barrel of powder found near the court."

It must here be observed that the scepticism thus early manifested
appears never to have been exorcised from the minds of French writers,
many of whom, of all shades of thought, continue, down to our day, to
assume that the real plotters were the king's government.[284]

Neither can we overlook sundry difficulties, again suggested by the
facts of the case, which make it hard to understand how the plans of the
plotters can in reality have been as they are represented.

We have already observed on the nature of the house occupied in Percy's
name. If this were, as Speed tells us, and as there is no reason to
doubt, at the service of the Peers during a session, for a
withdrawing-room, and if the session was to begin on November 5th, how
could Faukes hope not only to remain in possession, but to carry on his
strange proceedings unobserved, amid the crowd of lacqueys and officials
with whom the opening of Parliament by the Sovereign must needs have
flooded the premises? How was he, unobserved, to get into the fatal

This difficulty is emphasized by another. We learn, on the unimpeachable
testimony of Mrs. Whynniard, the landlady, that Faukes not only paid the
last instalment of rent on Sunday, November 3rd, but on the following
day, the day immediately preceding the intended explosion, had
carpenters and other workfolk in the house "for mending and repairing
thereof."[285] To say nothing of the wonderful honesty of paying rent
under the circumstances, what was the sense of putting a house in repair
upon Monday, which on Tuesday was to be blown to atoms? And how could
the practised eyes of such workmen fail to detect some trace of the
extraordinary and unskilled operations of which the house is said to
have been the theatre? If, indeed, the truth is that on the Tuesday the
premises were to be handed over for official use, it is easy to
understand why it was thought necessary to set them in order, but on no
other supposition does this appear comprehensible.

Problems, not easy to solve, connect themselves, likewise, with the
actual execution of the conspirators' plan. If it would have been hard
for Guy Faukes to get into the "cellar," how was he ever to get out of
it again? We are so accustomed to the idea of darkness and obscurity in
connection with him and his business, as perhaps to forget that his
project was to have been executed in the very middle of the day, about
noon or shortly afterwards. The king was to come in state with retinue
and guards, and attended by a large concourse of spectators, who, as is
usual on such occasions, would throng every nook and corner whence could
be obtained a glimpse of the building in which the royal speech was
being delivered.[286] It cannot be doubted, in particular, that the open
spaces adjacent to the House itself would be strictly guarded, and the
populace not suffered to approach too near the sacred precincts, more
especially when, as we have seen, so many suspicions were abroad of
danger to his sacred Majesty, and to the Parliament.

On a sudden a door immediately beneath the spot where the flower of the
nation were assembled, would be unlocked and opened, and there would
issue there-from a man, "looking like a very tall and desperate fellow,"
booted and spurred and equipped for travel. He was to have but a quarter
of an hour to save himself from the ruin he had prepared.[287] What
possible chance was there that he would have been allowed to pass?

As to his further plans, we have the most extravagant and contradictory
accounts, some obviously fabulous.[288] According to the least
incredible, a vessel was lying below London Bridge ready at once to
proceed to sea and carry him to Flanders; while a boat, awaiting him at
the Parliament stairs, was to convey him to the ship.[289] If this were
so, it is not clear why he equipped himself with his spurs, which,
however, are authenticated by as good evidence as any other feature of
the story. It would also appear that, here again, the plan proposed was
altogether impracticable, for at the time of his projected flight the
tide would have been flowing,[290] and it is well known that to attempt
to pass Old London Bridge against it would have been like trying to row
up a waterfall. Neither does it seem probable that the vessel would have
been able to get out of the Thames for several hours, before which time
all egress would doubtless have been stopped.

Such considerations must at least avail to make us pause before we can
unhesitatingly accept the traditional history, even in those broad
outlines which appear to be best established. The main point is,
however, independent of their truth. Though all be as has been affirmed
concerning the "cellar" and its contents, and the plan of operations
agreed upon by the traitors, the question remains as to the real nature
of the "discovery." We have seen, on the one hand, that the official
narrative bristles with contradictions, and, whatever be the truth, with
falsehoods. On the other hand, the said narrative was avowedly prepared
with the object of obtaining credence for the picturesque but
unveracious assertion that the plotters' design was detected "very
miraculously, even some twelve hours before the matter should have been
put in execution." On the Earl of Salisbury's own admission, it had been
divined almost as many days previously, and it was laid open at the last
moment only because he deliberately chose to wait till the last moment
before doing anything. No doubt a dramatic feature was thus added to the
business, and one eminently calculated to impress the public mind: but
they who insist so loudly on the miraculousness of an event which they
alone have invested with the character of a miracle, must be content to
have it believed that they knew still more than in an unguarded moment
they acknowledged, and arranged other things concerning the Plot than
its ultimate disclosure.[291]


[241] Copies were sent by Cecil to Cornwallis at Madrid, Parry at Paris,
Edmondes at Brussels, and Chichester at Dublin. Also by Chamberlain to
Dudley Carleton.

[242] "Lastly, and this you must not omit, you must deliver, in
commendation of my Lord Mounteagle, words to show how sincerely he
dealt, and how fortunately it proved that he was the instrument of so
great a blessing, ... because it is so lewdly given out that he was once
of this plot of powder, and afterwards betrayed it all to me."--Cecil to
Coke. (Draft in the R.O., printed by Jardine, _Criminal Trials_, ii.

[243] £500 as an annuity for life, and £200 per annum to him and his
heirs for ever in fee farm rents.

[244] See Thorold Rogers, _Agriculture and Prices_, v. 631, and Jessopp,
_One Generation of a Norfolk House_, p. 285.

[245] R.O. _Dom. James I._ xx. 56.

[246] _Criminal Trials_, ii. 65.

[247] _Ibid._ 68.

[248] Note on Fuller's _Church History_, x. § 39, and _on The Student's

[249] _History_, i. 251.

[250] _Criminal Trials_, ii. 69.

[251] On March 13th, 1600-1, Monteagle wrote to Cecil from the Tower,
"My conscience tells me that I am no way gilty of these Imputations, and
that mearely the blindness of Ignorance lead me into these infamous
errors." (Brit. Mus. MSS. Add. 6177).

[252] The letter is printed in _Archæologia_, xxviii. 422, by Mr. Bruce,
who argues from it Monteagle's complicity with the Plot. Mr. Jardine's
reply is found _ibid._ xxix. 80.

[253] According to T. Winter's famous declaration, Monteagle, within ten
days before the meeting of Parliament, told Catesby and the others that
the Prince of Wales was not going to attend the opening ceremony,
wherefore they resolved to "leave the Duke alone," and make arrangements
to secure the elder brother.

The original of Winter's declaration, dated November 25th, which is at
Hatfield, contains these and other particulars, which are altogether
omitted in a "copy" of the same in the Record Office, dated, remarkably
enough, on November the 23rd. It is from the latter that the version in
the "King's Book" was printed.

[254] De Beaumont to Villeroy, September 17th, 1605.

[255] Mr. Gardiner alludes to it, _History_, i. 254 (note), but
apparently attaches no importance to it.

[256] Brit. Museum, Add. MSS. 19402 fol. 143. See the letter in full,
Appendix H.

[257] _Discourse of the Manner of the Discovery_ (the "King's Book").

[258] Winwood, _Memorials_, ii. 170, etc. (November 9th). In the entry
book of the Earl of Salisbury's letters (Phillipps' MSS. 6297, f. 39)
this is described as "being the same that was sent to all his Majestie's
Embassadors and Ministers abroade." To Parry, however, quite a different
account was furnished.

[259] Cecil to Sir T. Parry, P.R.O. _France_, bundle 132 (November

[260] Gerard, _Narrative_, p. 101.

[261] Vol. ii. 15. The partisans of the government at the time appear to
have solved the difficulty by invoking the direct guidance of Heaven:

    "For thus the Lord in's all-protecting grace,
    Ten days before the Parliament began,
    Ordained that one of that most trayterous race
    Did meet the Lord Mounteagles Serving-man,
      Who about Seven a clocke at night was sent
      Upon some errand, and as thus he went,
    Crossing the street a fellow to him came,
    A man to him unknowen, of personage tall,
    In's hand a Letter, and he gave the same
    Unto this Serving-man, and therewithall
      Did strictly charge him to take speciall heede
      To give it into's Masters hand with speede."

    _Mischeefes Mystery_ (1617).

[262] Here again evidence was found of the direct guidance of Heaven:

    "And thus with loyall heart away he goes,
    Thereto resolved whatever should betide,
    To th' Court he went this matter to disclose,
    To th' Earle of Salsb'ryes chamber soone he hide,
      Whither heavens finger doubtless him directed,
      As the best meanes to have this fact detected."

    _Mischeefes Mystery._

[263] In the account forwarded to the ambassadors, there is a curious
contradiction. In the general sketch of the discovery with which it
opens, it is said that Faukes was captured "in the place itself," with
his lantern, "making his preparations." Afterwards, in the detailed
narrative of the proceedings, that he was taken outside. The fact is,
that the first portion of this letter is taken bodily from that of
November 6th to Parry, wherein the arrest of Faukes in the vault was a
principal point. Between the 6th and the 9th this part of the story had
been altered, but it does not seem to have been noticed that a remnant
of the earlier version still existed in the introductory portion.

It will be remarked that the account of November 6th makes no mention of
the visit of the chamberlain to the vault, nor that of November 9th to
the presence of Faukes at the time of this visit. The minute of November
7th says that Faukes admitted the chamberlain to the vault.

[264] _Criminal Trials_, ii. 3-5.

[265] _Narrative_, p. 100.

[266] This word is cancelled in the original draft.

[267] To Sir T. Edmondes, January 22nd, 1605-6.--Stowe MSS., 168, 73, f.

[268] _Viz._, the complicity of the Jesuits, "not only as being casually
acquainted with the Plot," but as having been "principall comforters, to
instruct the consciences of some of these wicked Traytors, in the
lawfulnesse of the Act and meritoriousnesse of the same."

On this it is enough to remark that when Father Garnet, the chief of the
said Jesuits, came afterwards to be tried, no attempt whatever was made
to prove any such thing. Cecil therefore wrote thus, and made so grave
an assertion, without having any evidence in his hands to justify it.

[269] That King James alone solved the enigma was put forth as an
article of faith. In the preamble to the Act for the solemnization of
the 5th of November, Parliament declared that the treason "would have
turned to utter ruin of this whole kingdom, had it not pleased Almighty
God, by inspiring the king's most excellent Majesty with a divine
Spirit, to discover some dark phrases of a letter...." In like manner,
the monarch himself, in his speech to the Houses, of November 9th,
informed them: "I did upon the instant interpret and apprehend some dark
phrases therein, contrary to the ordinary grammar construction of them,
and in another sort, than I am sure any divine or lawyer in any
university would have taken them."

This "dark phrase" was the sentence--"For the danger is past as soon as
you have burnt the letter," which the royal sage interpreted to mean "as
quickly," and that by these words "should be closely understood the
suddenty and quickness of the danger, which should be as quickly
performed and at an end as that paper should be of blazing up in the

Of this famous interpretation Mr. Gardiner says that it is "certainly
absurd;" while Mr. Jardine is of opinion that the words in question
"must appear to every common understanding mere nonsense."

When it was proposed in the House of Commons (January 31st, 1605-6,) to
pass a vote of thanks to Lord Monteagle for his share in the
"discovery," one Mr. Fuller objected that this would be to detract from
the honour of his Majesty, for "the true discoverer was the king."

The reader will perhaps be reminded of Sir Walter Scott's inimitable
picture of the king's satisfaction in this notable achievement.

"Do I not ken the smell of pouther, think ye? Who else nosed out the
Fifth of November, save our royal selves? Cecil, and Suffolk, and all of
them, were at fault, like sae mony mongrel tikes, when I puzzled it out;
and trow ye that I cannot smell pouther? Why, 'sblood, man, Joannes
Barclaius thought my ingine was in some manner inspiration, and terms
his history of the plot, _Series patefacti divinitus parricidii_; and
Spondanus, in like manner, saith of us, _Divinitus evasit_."--_Fortunes of
Nigel_, c. xxvii.

[270] _Relation_ ..., November 7th, 1605 (P.R.O.).

[271] _Narrative_, f. 68 b.--Stonyhurst MSS.

[272] F. 66. It will be remembered that this episode is not mentioned by
Cecil in his version of November 6th. Bishop Goodman's opinion is that
this and other points of the story were contrived for stage effect: "The
King must have the honour to interpret that it was by gunpowder; and the
very night before the parliament began it was to be discovered, to make
the matter the more odious, and the deliverance the more miraculous. No
less than the lord chamberlain must search for it and discover it, and
Faux with his dark lantern must be apprehended." (_Court of King James_,
p. 105.)

[273] T. Winter, November 23rd, 1605.

[274] There is, of course, abundant contradiction upon this point, as
all others, but the balance of evidence appears to point to 2 a.m. or

[275] The customary hour for the meeting of the Houses was 9 a.m., or
even earlier. (_Journals of Parliament._)

[276] The list of those present is given in the _Lords' Journals_; it is
headed by the Lord Chancellor (Ellesmere), and includes the Archbishop
of Canterbury, fourteen bishops, and thirty-one peers, of whom Lord
Monteagle was one. In 1598, as Mr. Atkinson tells us in his preface to
the lately published volume of the _Calendar of Irish State Papers_, the
cellars of the Dublin Law Courts were used as a powder magazine. The
English Privy Council, startled to hear of this remarkable arrangement,
pointed out that it might probably further diminish the number of loyal
subjects in that kingdom, but were quaintly reassured by the Irish Lords
Justices, who explained that, in view of the troublous state of the
times, the sittings of the courts had been discontinued, and were not
likely to be resumed for the present.

[277] The only allusion to it I have been able to find occurs in the
_Politician's Catechism_ (1658), p. 95: "Yet the barells, wherein the
powder was, are kept as reliques, and were often shown to the king and
his posterity, that they might not entertain the least thought of
clemency towards the Catholique Religion. There is not an ignorant
Minister or Tub-preacher, who doth not (when all other matter fails)
remit his auditors to the Gunpowder Treason, and describe those tubs
very pathetically, the only reliques thought fit by them to be kept in

[278] _Journals of the House of Lords_, November 1st and 2nd, 1678.

[279] _Ibid._, November 2nd, 1678.

[280] I have already remarked upon Faukes' statement that he was
arrested in quite a different place from any mentioned in the government
accounts. It should be added, that as to the person who arrested him,
there is a somewhat similar discrepancy of evidence. The honour is
universally assigned by the official accounts to Sir T. Knyvet, who in
the following year was created a peer, which shows that he undoubtedly
rendered some valuable service on the occasion. An epitaph, however, in
St. Anne's Church, Aldersgate (printed in Maitland's _History of
London_, p. 1065, 3rd ed.), declares that it was Peter Heiwood, of
Heywood, Lancashire, "who apprehended Guy Faux, with his dark Lanthorn;
and for his zealous Prosecution of Papists, as Justice of Peace, was
stabbed, in Westminster Hall, by John James, a Dominican Friar, A.D.
1640." No trace of this assassination can be found, nor does the name of
John James occur in the Dominican records. It is, however, a curious
coincidence that the "Guy Faukes' Lantern," exhibited in the Ashmolean
Museum at Oxford, bears the inscription: "_Laterna ilia ipsa quâ usus
est, et cum qua deprehensus Guido Faux in cryptâ subterraneâ, ubi domo_
[sic] _Parliamenti difflandae operam dabat. Ex dono Robti. Heywood nuper
Academiae Procuratoris, Ap. 4^o, 1641._" See the epitaph in full,
Appendix I.

[281] To J. Chamberlain, 10th-20th November, 1605. P.R.O. _France_, b.
132, f. 335 b.

[282] The Council appears at this time to have met in the Painted
Chamber, and, without at all wishing to lay too much stress upon this
point, I cannot but remark that the supposition that this was the
original scene assigned to the operations of Faukes would solve various

1. Beneath the Painted Chamber was a vaulted cellar, answering to the
description we have so frequently heard, whereas under the House of
Lords was neither a cellar nor a vault.

2. This crypt beneath the Painted Chamber has been constantly shown as
"Guy Faukes' Cellar."

3. In prints of the period, Faukes is usually represented as going to
blow up this chamber, never the House of Lords.

[283] To Chamberlain, November 13th (O.S.), 1605. P.R.O.

[284] Thus M. Bouillet, in the latest edition of his _Dictionnaire
d'histoire et géographie_, speaks as follows: "Le ministre cupide et
orgueilleux, Cécil, semble avoir été l'âme du complot, et l'avoir
découvert lui même au moment propice, après avoir présenté à l'esprit
faible de Jacques I. les dangers auxquels il était en but de la part des

Gazeau and Prampain (_Hist. Mod._, tome i.) speak of the conspiracy as
"cette plaisanterie;" and say of the conspirators, "Dans une cave, ils
avaient déposé 36 barils contenant (ou soi-disant tels) de la poudre."

[285] P.R.O. _Gunpowder Plot Book_, 39 (November 7).

[286] In Herring's _Pietas Pontificia_ (1606) the king is described as
coming to the House:

    "Magna cum Pompa, stipatorumque Caterva,
    Palmatisque, Togis, Gemmis, auroque refulgent:
    Ingens fit Populi concursus, compita complens,
    Turbis se adglomerant densis, spectantque Triumphum."

[287] Faukes himself says--examination of November 16th--that the
touchwood would have burnt a quarter of an hour.

[288] See Appendix K, _Myths of the Powder Plot_.

[289] In connection with this appears an interesting example of the
natural philosophy of the time, it being said that Faukes selected this
mode of escape, hoping that water, being a non-conductor, would save him
from the effects of the explosion.

[290] I am informed on high authority that on the day in question it was
high water at London Bridge between five and six p.m. In his _Memorials
of the Tower of London_ (p. 136) Lord de Ros says that the vessel
destined to convey him to Flanders was to be in waiting for Faukes at
the river side close by, and that in it he was to drop down the river
with the ebb tide. It would, of course, have been impossible for any
sea-going craft to make its way up to Westminster; nor would the ebb
tide run to order.

[291] It is frequently said that the testimony of Bishop Goodman, who
has been so often cited, is discredited by the fact that he probably
died a Catholic, for he was attended on his death-bed by the Dominican
Father, Francis à S. Clara (Christopher Davenport), chaplain to Queen
Henrietta Maria, a learned man who indulged in the dream of corporate
reunion between England and Rome, maintaining that the Anglican articles
were in accordance with Catholic doctrine.

In his will Goodman professed that as he lived, so he died, most
constant in all the articles of the Christian Faith, and in all the
doctrine of God's holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, "whereof," he
says, "I do acknowledge the Church of Rome to be the Mother Church. And
I do verily believe that no other church hath any salvation in it, but
only so far as it concurs with the faith of the Church of Rome." On
this, Mr. Brewer, his editor, observes that a sound Protestant might
profess as much, the question being what meaning is to be given to the
terms employed. Moreover, the same writer continues, Goodman cannot have
imagined that his life had been a constant profession of Roman doctrine,
inasmuch as he advanced steadily from one preferment to another in the
Church of England, and strongly maintaining her doctrines formally
denounced those of Rome. What is certain, however, is this, that in the
very work from which his evidence is quoted he speaks in such a manner
as to show that whatever were his religious opinions, he was a firm
believer in the Royal Supremacy and a lover of King James, whom he thus
describes: "Truly I did never know any man of so great an apprehension,
of so great love and affection,--a man so truly just, so free from all
cruelty and pride, such a lover of the church, and one that had done so
much good for the church." (_Court of King James_, i. 91.)



ON occasion of a notorious trial in the Star Chamber, in the year
1604,[292] Bancroft, the Archbishop of Canterbury, made the significant
observation[293] that nothing was to be discovered concerning the
Catholics "but by putting some Judas amongst them." That amongst the
Powder Plot conspirators there was some one who played such a part, who
perhaps even acted as a decoy-duck to lure the others to destruction,
has always been suspected, but with sundry differences of opinion as to
which of the band it was. Francis Tresham has most commonly been
supposed at least to have sent the warning letter to Monteagle, which
proved fatal to himself and his comrades: some writers have conjectured
that he did a good deal more.[294] Monteagle himself, as we have seen,
has been supposed by others to have been in the Plot and to have
betrayed it. It would appear, however, that neither of these has so
strong a claim to this equivocal distinction as one whose name has been
scarcely mentioned hitherto in such a connection.

The part played in the conspiracy by Thomas Percy is undoubtedly very
singular, and the more so when we learn something of the history and
character of the man. Till within some three years previously[295] he
had been a Protestant, and, moreover, unusually wild and dissolute.
After his conversion, he acquired the character of a zealous, if
turbulent, Catholic, and is so described, not only by Father Gerard and
Father Greenway, but by himself. In a letter written so late as November
2nd, 1605,[296] he represents that he has to leave Yorkshire, being
threatened by the Archbishop with arrest, "as the chief pillar of
papistry in that county."

It unfortunately appears that all the time this zealous convert was a
bigamist, having one wife living in the capital and another in the
provinces. When his name was published in connection with the Plot, the
magistrates of London arrested the one, and those of Warwickshire the
other, alike reporting to the secretary what they had done, as may be
seen in the State Paper Office.[297]

Gravely suspicious as such a fact must appear in connection with one
professing exceptional religious fervour, it by no means stands alone.
Father Greenway, in describing the character of Percy,[298] dwells much
on his sensitiveness to the suspicion of having played false to his
fellow Catholics in his dealings with King James in Scotland, coupled
with protestations of his determination to do something to show that he
as well as they had been deceived by that monarch. We find evidence that
as a fact some Catholics distrusted him, as in the examination of one
Cary, who, being interrogated concerning the Powder Plot, protested that
"Percy was no Papist but a Puritan."[299] There is likewise in the
king's own book a strange and obscure reference to Percy as the possible
author of the letter to Monteagle, one of the chief grounds for
suspecting him being "his backwardness in religion." It would moreover
appear that he was not a man who always impressed those favourably who
had to do with him, for Chamberlain reminds his friend Carleton that the
latter had ever considered him "a subtle, flattering, dangerous

[Illustration: THOMAS PERCY.]

We have seen something of the extraordinary manner in which Percy
transacted the business of hiring the house and "cellar," wholly unlike
what we should expect from one whose main object was to escape
observation, and that he brought to bear the influence of sundry
Protestant gentlemen, amongst them Dudley Carleton himself,[301] in
order to obtain the desired lease. We know, moreover, that various
unfortunate accidents prevented the history of these negotiations from
ever being fully told.

Yet more remarkable is a piece of information supplied by Bishop
Goodman, his authority being the eminent lawyer Sir Francis Moore, who,
says he, "is beyond all exception."[302] Moore, having occasion during
the period when the Plot was in progress to be out on business late at
night, and going homeward to the Middle Temple at two in the morning,
"several times he met Mr. Percy coming out of the great statesman's
house, and wondered what his business should be there." Such wonder was
certainly not unnatural, and must be shared by us. That a man who was
ostensibly the life and soul of a conspiracy directed against the king's
chief minister, even more than against the sovereign himself, should
resort for conference with his intended victim at an hour when he was
most likely to escape observation, is assuredly not the least
extraordinary feature in this strange and tangled tale.

Not less suspicious is another circumstance. Immediately before the
fatal Fifth of November, Percy had been away in the north, and he
returned to London only on the evening of Saturday, the 2nd. Of this
return, Cecil, writing a week later,[303] made a great mystery, as
though the traitor's movements had been of a most stealthy and secret
character, and declared that the fact had been discovered from Faukes
only with infinite difficulty, and after many denials. It happens,
however, that amongst the State Papers is preserved a pass dated October
25th, issued by the Commissioners of the North, for Thomas Percy,
posting to Court upon the king's especial service, and charging all
mayors, sheriffs, and postmasters to provide him with three good horses
all along the road.[304] It is manifestly absurd to speak of secrecy or
stealth in connection with such a journey, or to pretend that the Chief
Secretary of State could have any difficulty in tracing the movements of
a man who travelled in this fashion; and protestations of ignorance
serve only to show that to seem ignorant was thought desirable.

Considerations like these, it will hardly be denied, countenance the
notion that Percy was, in King James's own phrase, a tame duck employed
to catch wild ones. Against such a supposition, however, a grave
objection at once presents itself. Percy was amongst the very first
victims of the enterprise, being one of the four who were killed at
Holbeche when the conspirators were brought to bay.

This, unquestionably, must at first sight appear to be fatal to the
theory of his complicity, and the importance of such a fact should not
be extenuated. At the same time, on further scrutiny, the argument which
it supplies loses much of its force.

It must, in the first place, be remembered, that according to the belief
then current, it was no uncommon thing, as Lord Castlemaine expresses
it[305] the game being secured, to hang the spaniel which caught it,
that its master's art might not appear, and, to cite no other instance,
we have the example of Dr. Parry, who, as Mr. Brewer acknowledges,[306]
was involved in the ruin of those whom he had been engaged to lure to

There are, moreover, various remarkable circumstances in regard to the
case of Percy in particular. It was observed at the time as strange and
suspicious that any of the rebels should have been slain at all, for
they were almost defenceless, having no fire-arms; they did not succeed
in killing a single one of their assailants, and might all have been
captured without difficulty. Nevertheless, the attacking party were not
only allowed to shoot, but selected just the wrong men as their mark,
precisely those who, being chiefly implicated in the beginnings of the
Plot, could have afforded the most valuable information,[307] for
besides Percy, were shot down Catesby and the two Wrights,[308] all
deeply implicated from the first. So unaccountable did such a course
appear as at once to suggest sinister interpretations--especially as
regarded the case of Percy and Catesby, who were always held to be the
ringleaders of the band. As Goodman tells us,[309] "Some will not stick
to report that the great statesman sending to apprehend these traitors
gave special charge and direction for Percy and Catesby, 'Let me never
see them alive;' who it may be would have revealed some evil counsel
given." A similar suspicion seems to be insinuated by Sir Edward Hoby,
writing to Edmondes, the Ambassador at Brussels[310]: "Percy is dead:
who it is thought by some particular men could have said more than any

More suspicious still appears the fact that the king's government
thought it necessary to explain how it had come to pass that Percy was
not secured alive, and to protest that they had been anxious above all
for his capture, but had been frustrated by the inconsiderate zeal of
their subordinates. In the "King's Book" we read as follows: "Although
divers of the King's Proclamations were posted down after those Traitors
with all speed possible, declaring the odiousness of that bloody
attempt, and the necessity to have Percy preserved alive, if it had been
possible, ... yet the far distance of the way (which was above an
hundred miles), together with the extreme deepness thereof, joined also
with the shortness of the day, was the cause that the hearty and loving
affection of the King's good subjects in those parts prevented the speed
of his Proclamations."

Such an explanation cannot be deemed satisfactory. The distance to be
covered was about 112 miles, and there were three days to do it, for not
till November 8th were the fugitives surrounded. They in their flight
had the same difficulties to contend with, as are here enumerated, yet
they accomplished their journey in a single day, and they had not, like
the king's couriers, fresh horses ready for them at every post.

But we have positive evidence upon this point. Father Greenway, who was
at the time in the Midlands, close to the scene of action, incidentally
mentions, without any reference to our present question,[311] that while
the rebels were in the field, messengers came post haste continually,
one after the other, from the capital, all bearing proclamations
mentioning Percy by name.

It must also be observed that though the couriers, we are told, could
not in three days get from London to Holbeche to hinder Percy's death,
they contrived to ride in one from Holbeche to London with news that he
was dead.[312]

Another circumstance not easy to explain is, that the man who killed
Percy and Catesby,[313] John Streete by name, received for his service
the handsome pension of two shillings a day for life, equal at least to
a pound of our present money.[314] This is certainly a large reward for
having done the very thing that the government most desired to avoid,
and for an action, moreover, involving no sort of personal risk, killing
two practically unarmed men from behind a tree.[315] If, however, he had
silenced a dangerous witness, it is easy to understand the munificence
of his recompense.

Against Catesby, likewise, there are serious indictments, and it seems
impossible to believe him to have been, as commonly represented, a man,
however blinded by fanaticism, yet honest in his bad enterprise, who
would not stoop to fraud or untruth. It is abundantly evident that on
many occasions he deliberately deceived his associates, and those whom
he called his spiritual guides, making promises which he did not mean to
keep, and giving assurances which he knew to be false.[316] It will be
sufficient to quote one or two examples quite sufficient to stamp him as
a man utterly unscrupulous about the means employed to gain his ends.

On the 5th of November, when, after the failure of the enterprise, he
arrived at Dunchurch, in Warwickshire, Catesby, in order to induce Sir
Everard Digby to commit himself to the hopeless campaign now to be
undertaken, assured him,[317] that though the powder was discovered, yet
the king and Salisbury were killed; all were in "a pother;" the
Catholics were sure to rise in a body, one family alone, the Littletons,
would bring in one thousand men the next day; and so on,--all this
being absolutely untrue. That he had previously employed similar means
on a large scale to inveigle his friends into his atrocious and
senseless scheme, there is much evidence, strongest of all that of
Father Garnet;[318] "I doubt not that Mr. Catesby hath feigned many such
things for to induce others."

Worst of all, we learn from another intercepted letter of Garnet's,
Catesby had for his own purposes circulated an atrocious slander against
Garnet himself, although passing as his devoted disciple and friend:
"Master Catesby," he wrote,[319] "did me much wrong, and hath confessed
that he told them he asked me a question in Q. Elizabeth's time of the
powder action,[320] and that I said it was lawful. All which is most
untrue. He did it to draw in others."

In view of this, and much else of a similar kind, it is difficult to
read Father Gerard's _Narrative_, and more particularly Father
Greenway's additions thereto, without a growing feeling that if Catesby
sought counsel it was with no intention of being guided by it, and that
his sole desire was to get hold of something which might serve his own

We have already seen that a great deal of mystery attaches to Francis
Tresham, who is generally supposed to have written the letter to
Monteagle, and was clearly suspected by some of having done a great deal
more; for the author of the _Politician's Catechism_ speaks of him as
having access to Cecil's house even at midnight, along with another
whose name is not given, these two being therefore supposed to have been
the secretary's instruments in all this business. What is certain is,
that Tresham did not fly like the rest when the "discovery" had taken
place, not only remaining in London, and showing himself openly in the
streets, but actually presenting himself to the council, and offering
them his services. Moreover, though his name was known to the
government, at least on November 7th, as one of the accomplices, it was
for several days omitted from their published proclamations, and not
till the 12th was he taken into custody. Being confined in the Tower, he
was shortly attacked by a painful malady, and on December 23rd he died,
as was officially announced, of a "strangury," as Salisbury assures
Cornwallis "by a natural sickness, such as he hath been a long time
subject to."[321] Throughout his sickness he himself and his friends
loudly declared that should he survive it "they feared not the course of
justice."[322] Such confidence, as Mr. Jardine remarks, could be
grounded only on his possession of knowledge which the authorities would
not venture to reveal, and it is not surprising that his death should
have been attributed, by the enemies of the government, to poison. It is
no doubt an argument against such a supposition that during his illness
Tresham was allowed to be attended by his wife and a confidential
servant. On the other hand, not only does Bishop Goodman inform us[323]
that "Butler, the great physician of Cambridge," declared him to have
been poisoned; but the author of _Mischeefes Mystery_, a violent
government partisan, contradicts the notion of a natural death, by
asserting that "Tresham murthered himself in the Tower."

It thus appears, once again, that the more its details are scrutinized,
the less does the traditional history of the Plot commend itself to our
acceptance. It is hard to believe that within the ranks of the
conspirators themselves, there was no treachery, no one who, lending
himself to work the ruin of his associates, unwittingly wrought his own.

       *       *       *       *       *

The evidence hitherto considered may fitly conclude with the testimony
of a witness living near the time in question, who had evidently been at
pains to make inquiries amongst those most likely to give information.
This is an anonymous correspondent of Anthony à Wood, whose notes are
preserved in Fulman's collection in the library of Corpus Christi
College, Oxford. These remarkable notes have been seen by Fulman, who
inserted in the margin various questions and objections, to which the
writer always supplied precise and definite replies. In the following
version this supplementary information is incorporated in the body of
his statement, being distinguished by italics. The writer, who explains
that his full materials are in the country, speaks thus:[324]

"I should be glad to understand what your friend driveth at about the
Fifth of November. It was, without all peradventure, a State Plot. I
have collected many pregnant circumstances concerning it.

"'Tis certain that the last Earl of Salisbury[325] confessed to William
Lenthal[326] it was his father's contrivance, which Lenthal soon after
told one Mr. Webb (_John Webb, Esq._), a person of quality, and his
kinsman, yet alive.

"Sir Henry Wotton says 'twas usual with Cecil to create plots, that he
might have the honour of the discovery, or to such effect.

"The Lord Mounteagle knew there was a letter to be sent to him before it
came. (_Known by Edmund Church, Esq., his confidant._)

"Sir Everard Digby's sons were both knighted soon after, and Sir Kenelm
would often say it was a State design, to disengage the king of his
promise to the Pope and the King of Spain, to indulge the Catholics if
ever he came to be king here; and somewhat to his purpose was found in
the Lord Wimbledon's papers after his death.[327]

"Mr. Vowell, who was executed in the Rump time, did also affirm it

"Catesby's man (_George Bartlet_),[329] on his death-bed, confessed his
master went to Salisbury House several nights before the discovery, and
was always brought privately in at a back door."

Then, in answer to an objection of Fulman's, is added: "Catesby, 'tis
like, did not mean to betray his friends or his own life--he was drawn
in and made believe strange things. All good men condemn him and the
rest as most desperate wretches; yet most believed the original
contrivance of the Plot was not theirs."

Whatever else may be thought of the above statements, they at least
serve to contradict Mr. Jardine's assertion,[330] that the notion of
Cecil's complicity,--which he terms a strange suggestion, scarce worthy
of notice,--was first heard of long after the transaction, and was
adopted exclusively by Catholics. Clearly it was not unknown to
Protestants who were contemporaries, or personally acquainted with
contemporaries, of the event. Yet the document here cited was known to
Mr. Jardine, who mentions one of its statements, that relating to Lord
Monteagle, but says nothing of its more serious allegations.

It must also be remarked that we find some traces in the evidence which
remains of certain mysterious conspirators of great importance,
concerning whom no investigation whatever appears to have been made,
they being at once permitted to drop into the profoundest obscurity, in
a manner quite contrary to the habitual practice of the authorities.

One such instance is afforded by the testimony of a mariner, Henry
Paris, of Barking,[331] that Guy Faukes, _alias_ Johnson, hired a boat
of him, "wherein was carried over to Gravelines a man supposed of great
import: he went disguised, and would not suffer any one man to go with
him but this Vaux, nor to return with him. This Paris did attend for him
back at Gravelines six weeks. If cause require there are several proofs
of this matter." None of these, however, seem to have been sought.


[292] That of Mr. Pound.

[293] Jardine, _Criminal Trials_, ii. 38, n.

[294] _E.g._, the author of the _Politician's Catechism_.

[295] "About the time of my Lord Essex his enterprise he became
Catholic" (_i.e._ 1601). Father Gerard, _Narrative_, p. 58.

[296] P.R.O. _Gunpowder Plot Book_, n. 4.

[297] Justice Grange, of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, to Salisbury, November
5th, 1605. Justices of Warwickshire, to the same, November 12th.

[298] MS., f. 31-32.

[299] Tanner MSS., _ut sup._, f. 167.

[300] P.R.O. _Dom. James I._, November 7th, 1605.

[301] The case of Carleton is not without mystery. At the time of the
discovery he was at Paris, as secretary to the English ambassador, but
about the middle of the month was ordered home in hot haste and placed
"in restraint." On February 28th, 1605-6, he wrote to his friend
Chamberlain that he was airing himself on the Chilterns to get rid of
the scent of powder, asking his correspondent to consult a patron as to
his best means of promotion (_Dom. James I._ xviii. 125). Far from being
injured by any suspicion that he might seem to have incurred, he
subsequently rose rapidly in favour, was intrusted with most important
diplomatic missions, and was finally created Viscount Dorchester.

[302] _Court of King James_, i. 105.

[303] To the ambassadors, November 9th.

[304] _Dom. James I._ xv. 106.

[305] _Catholique Apology_, p. 415.

[306] Goodman's _Court of King James_, i. 121, note.

[307] See Goodman's remarks on this subject (_Court of King James_, i.
106). The author of the _Politician's Catechism_ writes: "It is very
certaine that Percy and Catesby might have been taken alive, when they
were killed, but Cecil knew full well that these two unfortunate
Gentlemen would have related the story lesse to his owne advantage, than
himself caused it to be published: therefore they were dispatched when
they might have been made prisoners, having no other weapons, offensive
or defensive, but their swords."

[308] About the death of the Wrights there are extraordinary
contradictions. In the "original" of his famous confession T. Winter
says: "The next shot was the elder Wright, stone dead; after him the
younger Mr. Wright." In _Mischeefes Mystery_ we read that Percy and
Catesby were killed "with a gunne," the two Wrights "with Halberts." The
day after the attack, November 9th, Sir Edward Leigh wrote to the
Council, that the Wrights were not slain, as reputed, but wounded. Not
till the 13th was their death certified by Sir Richard Walsh.

[309] _Court of King James_, i. 106.

[310] Nichols, _Progresses of King James I._, i. 588.

[311] MS., f. 70, b.

[312] Cecil writing to the ambassadors, November 9th, mentions in a
postscript the fate of the rebels.

[313] They were slain by two balls from the same musket.

[314] Warrant, P.R.O.

[315] Father Gerard mentions this circumstance (_Narrative_, p. 110).

[316] This point is well developed in the recent _Life of a
Conspirator_, pp. 120-126.

[317] _Dom. James I._ xvi. 97.

[318] _Dom. James I._, March 4th, 1605-6.

[319] _Gunpowder Plot Book_, 242.

[320] The strange story of a powder-plot under Elizabeth is variously
told. According to one of the mysterious confessions attributed to
Faukes, which have disappeared from the State Papers, Owen told him in
Flanders that one Thomas Morgan had proposed to blow up her majesty
(Abbot, _Antilogia_, 137). The _Memorial to Protestants_ by Bishop
Kennet (1713) says that the man's name was Moody, who wanted the French
ambassador to subsidise him. The idea was to place a 20 lb. bag of
powder under the queen's bed, and explode it in the middle of the night,
but how this was to be managed is not explained.

[321] Winwood, _Memorials_, ii. 189.

[322] Wood to Salisbury, December 23rd, 1605.

[323] _Court of King James_, i. 107.

[324] _Collection_, vol. ii. 15.

[325] William, second earl (born 1591, died 1668), son of the minister
of James I.

[326] Speaker of the Long Parliament.

[327] Edward Cecil, Viscount Wimbledon, third son of Thomas, first Earl
of Exeter (the elder brother of Robert Cecil, first Earl of Salisbury),
died 1638.

[328] Peter Vowell, a Protestant, executed with Colonel John Gerard for
an alleged plot against Cromwell, July 10th, 1654.

[329] "George Bartlett, Mr. Catesby's servant," appears amongst the
suspected persons whose names were sent up to Cecil by the justices of
Warwickshire, November 12th, 1605. (_Gunpowder Plot Book_, 134.)

[330] _Criminal Trials_, ii. 188.

[331] _Gunpowder Plot Book_, 130.



WE have hitherto confined our attention to sources of information other
than those with which the authors of the official narrative have
supplied us, and upon which they based the same. It remains to inquire
how far the evidence presented by them can avail to substantiate the
traditional history, and to rebut the various arguments against its
authenticity which have been adduced.

For brevity and clearness' sake it will be advisable to divide this
investigation under several heads.

i. _The Trial of the Conspirators._

On the threshold of our inquiry we are met by a most singular and
startling fact. As to what passed on the trial of the conspirators, what
evidence was produced against them, how it was supported,--nay, even how
the tale of their enterprise was told--we have no information upon which
any reliance can be placed. One version alone has come down to us of the
proceedings upon this occasion--that published "by authority"--and of
this we can be sure only that it is utterly untrustworthy. It was issued
under the title of the _True and Perfect Relation_, but, as Mr. Jardine
has already told us, is certainly not deserving of the character which
its title imports. "It is not true, because many occurrences on the
trial are wilfully misrepresented; and it is not _perfect_, because the
whole evidence, and many facts and circumstances which must have
happened, are omitted, and incidents are inserted which could not by
possibility have taken place on the occasion. It is obviously a false
and imperfect relation of the proceedings; a tale artfully garbled and
misrepresented ... to serve a State purpose, and intended and calculated
to mislead the judgment of the world upon the facts of the case."[332]
Again the same author remarks,[333] "that every line of the published
trial was rigidly weighed and considered, not with reference to its
accuracy, but its effect on the minds of those who might read it, is

Moreover, the narrative thus obviously dishonest, was admittedly issued
in contradiction of divers others already passing "from hand to hand,"
which were at variance with itself in points of importance, and which it
stigmatized as "uncertain, untrue, and incoherent;" it justified its
appearance on the ground that it was supremely important for the public
to be rightly informed in such a case:[334] and so successful were the
efforts made to secure for it a monopoly, that no single document has
come down to us by which its statements might be checked. In
consequence, to quote Mr. Jardine once more,[335] there is no trial
since the time of Henry VIII. in regard of which we are so ignorant as
to what actually occurred.[336]

The employment of methods such as these would in any circumstances
forfeit all credit on behalf of the story thus presented. In the present
instance the presumption raised against it is even stronger than it
would commonly be. If the Gunpowder Plot were in reality what was
represented, why was it deemed necessary, in Cecil's own phrase, to
pervert and disguise its history in order to produce the desired effect?
A project so singular and diabolical in its atrocity, prepared for on so
large a scale, and so nearly successful, should, it would appear, have
needed no fictitious adjuncts to enhance its enormity; and for the
conviction of miscreants caught red-handed in such an enterprise no
evidence should have been so effectual as that furnished by the facts of
the case, which of their nature should have been patent and
unquestionable. When we find, on the contrary, a web of falsehood and
mystery woven with elaborate care over the whole history of the
transaction, it is not unnatural to infer that to have told the simple
truth would not have suited the purpose of those who had the telling of
the tale; and it is obviously necessary that the evidence whereby their
story was supported should be rigorously sifted.

What has been said, though in great measure true of the trial of Father
Garnet, at the end of March, is especially applicable to that of the
conspirators, two months earlier, for in regard of this we have
absolutely no information beyond that officially supplied. The execution
of Faukes and his companions following close upon their
arraignment,[337] all that had been elicited, or was said to have been
elicited, at their trial, became henceforth evidence which could not be
contradicted, the prosecution thus having a free hand in dealing with
their subsequent victim.[338] In view of this circumstance it has been
noted as remarkable that whereas the conspirators had been kept alive
and untried for nearly three months, they were thus summarily dealt with
at the moment when it was known that the capture of Father Garnet was
imminent, and, as a matter of fact, he was taken on the very day on
which the first company were executed.[339] It would appear that
nothing should have seemed more desirable than to confront the Jesuit
superior with those whom he was declared to have instigated to their
crime, instead of putting them out of the way at the very moment when
there was a prospect of doing so.

ii. _The Fundamental Evidence._

Amongst all the confessions and "voluntary declarations" extracted from
the conspirators, there are two of exceptional importance, as having
furnished the basis of the story told by the government, and ever since
generally accepted. These are a long declaration made by Thomas Winter,
and another by Guy Faukes, which alone were made public, being printed
in the "King's Book," and from which are gathered the essential
particulars of the story as we are accustomed to hear it.

Of Winter's declaration, which is in the form of a letter to the Lords
Commissioners, there is found in the State Paper Office only a copy,
bearing date November 23rd, 1605, in the handwriting of Levinus Munck,
Cecil's private secretary. This copy has been shown to the King, who in
a marginal note objects to a certain "uncleare phrase," which has
accordingly been altered in accordance with the royal criticism: and
from it has evidently been taken the printed version, which agrees with
it in every respect, including the above-mentioned emendation of the


It must strike the reader as remarkable that, whereas, as has been said,
the body of the letter is in the handwriting of the secretary, Munck,
the names of the witnesses who attest it[340] are added in that of his
master, Cecil himself.

The "original" document, in Winter's own hand, is at Hatfield, and
agrees in general so exactly with the copy, as to demonstrate the
identity of their origin.[341] But while, as we have seen, the "copy" is
dated November 23rd, the "original" is dated on the 25th.[342] On a
circumstance so singular, light is possibly thrown by a letter from
Waad, the Lieutenant of the Tower, to Cecil, on the 21st of the same
month.[343] "Thomas Winter," he wrote, "doth find his hand so strong, as
after dinner he will settle himself to write that he hath verbally
declared to your Lordship, adding what he shall remember." The inference
is certainly suggested that torture had been used until the prisoner's
spirit was sufficiently broken to be ready to tell the story required of
him, and that the details were furnished by those who demanded it. It
must, moreover, be remarked that although Winter's "original"
declaration is witnessed only by Sir E. Coke, the Attorney General, it
appears in print attested by all those whom Cecil had selected for the
purpose two days before the declaration was made.[344] It may be said
that the inference drawn above is violent and unfair, and, perhaps, were
there no other case to go upon but that of Winter, so grave a charge as
it implies should not be made. There remains, however, the companion
case of Faukes, which is yet more extraordinary.

His declaration first makes its appearance as "The examination of Guy
Fawkes, taken the 8th of November."[345] The document thus described is
manifestly a draft, and not a copy of a deposition actually taken. It is
unsigned: the list of witnesses is in the same handwriting as the rest,
and in no instance is a witness indicated by such a title as he would
employ for his signature.[346] Throughout this paper Faukes is made to
speak in the third person, and the names of accomplices to whom he
refers are not given.

What, however, is most remarkable is the frank manner in which this
document is treated as a draft. Several passages are cancelled and
others substituted, sometimes in quite a contrary sense, so that the
same deponent cannot possibly have made the statements contained in both
versions. Other paragraphs are "ticked off," as the event proves, for

Nine days later, November 17th,[347] Faukes was induced to put his name
to the substance of the matter contained in the draft.[348] The document
is headed "The declaration[349] of Guy Fawkes, prisoner in the Tower of
London." Faukes speaks throughout in the first person, and supplies the
names previously omitted.[350] Most noteworthy is the manner in which
this version is adapted to the emendations of the draft. The passages
ticked off have disappeared entirely, amongst them the remarkable
statements that "they [the confederates] meant also to have sent for the
prisoners in the Tower, of whom particularly they had some
consultation,"--that "they had consultation for the taking of the Lady
Mary [the infant daughter of King James] into their possession"--and
that "provision was made by some of the conspiracy of armour of proof
this last summer, for this action." Where an alteration has been made in
the draft, great skill is shown in combining what is important in both

As to the means which were employed to compel Faukes to sign the
declaration there can be no doubt; his signature bearing evidence that
he had been tortured with extreme severity. The witnesses are but two,
Coke, the Attorney General, and Waad, the Lieutenant of the Tower. When,
however, the document came to be printed, as in the other case, a fuller
list was appended, but not exactly that previously indicated, for to
Faukes were assigned the same witnesses as to Winter, including the
Earls of Worcester and Dunbar over and above his own list.[352]


The printed version exhibits other points of interest. There was in the
Archduke's service, in Flanders, an English soldier, Hugh Owen,[354]
whom the government were for some reason, excessively desirous to
incriminate, and get into their hands. For this purpose, a passage was
artfully interpolated in the statement of Faukes, whereof no trace is
found in the original. In the "King's Book," the passage in question
stands thus, the words italicised being those fraudulently introduced:

"About Easter, the parliament being prorogued till October next, we
dispersed ourselves, and I retired into the Low-countries, _by advice
and direction of the rest; as well to acquaint Owen with the particulars
of the plot, as also_, lest, by my longer stay, I might have grown
suspicious." But of Owen we shall see more in particular. It must not be
forgotten that on several other days besides those named above, Faukes
made declarations, still extant, viz., November 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, and
16th, and January 9th and 20th. The most important items of information
furnished by that selected for publication were not even hinted at in
any of these.

Farther light appears to be thrown on the manner in which this important
declaration was prepared by another document found amongst the State
Papers. This is an "interrogatory" drawn up by Sir E. Coke on November
8th, the very day of the "draft," expressly for the benefit of
Faukes.[355] That the "draft" was composed from this appears to be shown
by a curious piece of evidence. We have already noticed the strange
phraseology of one of the passages attributed to Faukes: "He confesseth
that the same day that this detestable act should have been performed
the same day should other of their confederacy have surprised the person
of the Lady Elizabeth," etc. Precisely the same repetition occurs in
the sixth of Mr. Attorney's suggested questions. "_Item_, was it not
agreed that the same day that the act should have been done, the same
day or soon after the person of the Lady Elizabeth should have been
surprised," etc.?

Moreover, it is apparent that this interrogatory is not founded on
information already obtained, but is, in fact, what is known as a
"fishing" document, intended to elicit evidence of some kind. In the
first place, some of its suggestions are mutually incompatible. Thus in
another place it implies that not Elizabeth but her infant sister Mary
was the choice of the queen-makers:--"Who should have been protector of
the Lady Mary, who, being born in England, they meant to prefer to the
crown. With whom should she have married?" (She was then seven months
old.) Again it asks: "What should have become of the Prince?" as though
he might after all be the sovereign intended.

Besides this, many points are raised which are evidently purely
imaginary, inasmuch as no more was ever heard of them though if
substantiated, they would have been supremely important.[356]

The above details will not appear superfluous if the importance of these
documents be fully understood. It is upon these narratives, stamped with
features so incompatible with their trustworthiness, that we entirely
depend for much of prime importance in the history of the conspiracy, in
particular for the notable episode of the mine, which they alone relate,
and which is not even mentioned, either in the other numerous
confessions of Faukes and Winter themselves, or by any of the other
confederates. Save for an incidental remark of Keyes, that he helped to
work in the mine, we hear nothing else of it; while not only is this
confession quite as strange a document as the two others, but, to
complicate the matter still more, Keyes is expressly described by
Cecil[357] himself as one of those that "wrought not in the mine."

It is hard to understand how so remarkable an operation should have been
totally ignored in all the other confessions and declarations, numerous
and various as they are; while, on the other hand, should this striking
feature of the Plot prove to be a fabrication, what is there of which to
be certain?

iii. _The Confession of Thomas Bates (December 4th, 1605)._

There is another piece of evidence to which exceptional prominence has
been given, the confession of Thomas Bates, Catesby's servant, dated
December 4th, 1605. This is the only one of the conspirators'
confessions specifically mentioned in the government account of their
trial, and it is mentioned twice over--a circumstance not unsuspicious
in view of the nature of that account as already described.[358]

It is not necessary at present to enter upon the large question of the
attitude of the Jesuits towards the Plot, nor to discuss their guilt or
innocence. This is, however, beyond dispute, that the government were
above all things anxious to prove them guilty,[359] and no document ever
produced was so effective for this purpose as the said confession, for,
if it were true, there could be no question as to the guilt of one
Jesuit, at least, Father Greenway _alias_ Tesimond. The substance of
Bates' declaration was as follows:

That being introduced and sworn into the conspiracy by his master,
Catesby, he was then told that, as a pledge of fidelity, he must receive
the sacrament upon his oath, and accordingly he went to confession to
Greenway, the Jesuit.

_That in his confession he fully informed Greenway of the design, and
that Greenway bade him obey his master, because it was for a good cause,
and be secret, and mention the matter to no other priest._

That he was absolved by Greenway, and afterwards received Holy

It will be observed that the second paragraph, here italicized, is of
supreme importance. We have evidence that although the conspirators,
during the course of their operations, frequented the sacraments, they
expressly avoided all mention of their design to their confessors,
Catesby having required this of them, assuring them that he had fully
satisfied himself that the project, far from being sinful, was
meritorious, but that the priests were likely to give trouble.[360] We
are even told by some authors that Catesby exacted of his confederates
an oath of secrecy in this regard. It is clear that his authority must
have had special weight with his own servant, who was, moreover,
devotedly attached to his master, as he proved in the crisis of his
fate. We might, therefore, naturally be prepared to learn that Bates,
though confessing to Greenway, never acquainted him with the Plot; and,
that in fact he never did so, there is some interesting evidence.

It cannot escape observation as a suspicious circumstance that this
most important confession, upon which so much stress was laid, exists
amongst the State Papers only in a copy.[361] Moreover, this copy has
been treated as though it were an original, being officially endorsed,
and it has on some occasion been used in Court.[362] If, however, this
version were not genuine, but prepared for a purpose, it is clear that
it could not have been produced while Bates was alive to contradict it,
and there appears to be no doubt that it was not heard of till after his

This appears, in the first place, from a manuscript account of the
Plot,[363] written between the trial of the conspirators and that of
Father Garnet, that is, within two months of the former. The author sets
himself expressly to prove that the priests must have been cognizant of
the design, for, he argues, Catholics, when they have anything of the
kind in hand, always consult their confessors about it, and it cannot be
supposed that on this occasion only did they omit to do so. In support
of his assertion, he quotes the instances of Parry, Babington, and
Squires, but says nothing of Bates. He mentions Greenway as undoubtedly
one of the guilty priests, but only because "his Majesty's proclamation
so speaks it." Had the confession of Bates, as we have it, been so
prominently adduced at the trial, as the official narrative represents,
it is quite impossible that such a writer should have been content with
these feeble inferences.

Still more explicit is the evidence furnished by another MS. containing
a report of Father Garnet's trial.[364] In this the confession of Bates
is cited, but precisely without the significant passage of which we have
spoken, as follows: "Catesby afterwards discovered the project unto him;
shortly after which discovery, Bates went to Mass to Tesimond
[Greenway], and there was confessed and had absolution."

Here, again, it is impossible to suppose that the all-important point
was the one omitted. It is clear, however, that the mention of a
confession made to Greenway would _primâ facie_ afford a presumption
that this particular matter had been confessed, thus furnishing a
foundation whereon to build; and, knowing as we do how evidence was
manipulated, it is quite conceivable that the copy now extant
incorporates the improved version thus suggested.

Such an explanation was unmistakably insinuated by Father Garnet, when,
on his trial, this evidence was urged against him; for he significantly
replied that "Bates was a dead man."[365] Greenway himself afterwards,
when beyond danger, denied on his salvation that Bates had ever on any
occasion mentioned to him any word concerning the Plot. It is still more
singular that Bates himself appears to have known nothing of his own
declaration. He had apparently said, in some examination of which no
record remains, that he thought Greenway "knew of the business." This
statement he afterwards retracted as having been elicited by a vain
hope of pardon, in a letter which is given in full by Father
Gerard,[366] and of which Cecil himself made mention at Garnet's
trial.[367] But of the far more serious accusation we are considering he
said never a word.

There is, however, evidence still more notable. On the same day,
December 4th, on which Bates made his declaration, Cecil wrote a most
important letter to one Favat,[368] who had been commissioned by King
James to urge the necessity of obtaining evidence without delay against
the priests. This document is valuable as furnishing explicit testimony
that torture was employed with this object. "Most of the prisoners,"
says the secretary, "have wilfully forsworn that the priests knew
anything in particular, and obstinately refuse to be accusers of them,
yea, what torture soever they be put to."

He goes on, however, to assure his Majesty that the desired object is
now in sight, particularly referring to a confession which can be none
other than that of Bates, but likewise cannot be that afterwards given
to the world; for it is spoken of as affording promise, but not yet
satisfactory in its performance.

"You may tell his Majesty that if he please to read privately what this
day we have drawn from a voluntary and penitent examination, the point I
am persuaded (but I am no undertaker) shall be so well cleared, if he
forbear to speak much of this but few days, as we shall see all fall out
to the end whereat his Majesty shooteth."

It seems clear, therefore, that the famous declaration of Bates, like
those of Faukes and Winter, tends to discredit the story which in
particulars so important rests upon such evidence.

It may be farther observed that if the confession of Bates, as
officially preserved, were of any worth, it would have helped to raise
other issues of supreme importance. Thus its concluding paragraph runs
as follows:

"He confesseth that he heard his master, Thomas Winter, and Guy Fawkes
say (presently upon the coming over of Fawkes) that they should have the
sum of five-and-twenty thousand pounds out of Spain."

This clearly means that the King of Spain was privy to the design, for a
sum equivalent to a quarter of a million of our money could not have
been furnished by private persons. The government, however, constantly
assured the English ambassadors abroad of the great satisfaction with
which they found that no suspicion whatever rested upon any foreign

iv. _Robert Winter._

There are various traces of foul play in regard of this conspirator in
particular, which serve to shake our confidence as to the treatment of
all. Robert Winter was the eldest brother of Thomas, and held the family
property, which was considerable. Whether this motive, as Mr. Jardine
suggests, or some other, prompted the step, certain it is that the
government in their published history falsified the documents in order
to incriminate him more deeply. Faukes, in the confession of Nov. 17th,
mentioned Robert Keyes as amongst the first seven of the conspirators
who worked in the mine, and Robert Winter as one of the five introduced
at a later period. The names of these two were deliberately interchanged
in the published version, Robert Winter appearing as a worker in the
mine, and Keyes, who was an obscure man of no substance, among the
gentlemen of property whose resources were to have supported the
subsequent rebellion. Moreover, in the account of the same confession
sent to Edmondes by Cecil three days before Faukes signed it (_i.e._,
Nov. 14th), the same transposition occurs, Keyes being explicitly
described as one of those "who wrought not in the mine," although, as we
have seen, he is one of the three who alone make any mention of it.

Still more singular is another circumstance. About November 28th, Sir
Edward Coke, the attorney-general, drew up certain farther notes of
questions to be put to various prisoners.[369] Amongst these we read:
"Winter to be examined of his brother. For no man else can accuse him."
But a fortnight or so before this time the Secretary of State had
officially informed the ambassador in the Low Countries that Robert
Winter was one of those deepest in the treason, and, to say nothing of
other evidence, a proclamation for his apprehension had been issued on
November 18th. Yet Coke's interrogatory seems to imply that nothing had
yet been established against him, and that he was not known to the
general body of the traitors as a fellow-conspirator.

v. _Captain Hugh Owen, Father William Baldwin, and others._

We have seen something of the extreme anxiety evinced by the English
government to incriminate a certain Hugh Owen, a Welsh soldier of
fortune serving in Flanders under the archduke.[370] With him were
joined Father Baldwin, the Jesuit, and Sir William Stanley, who, like
Owen, was in the archduke's service. The measures taken in regard of
them are exceedingly instructive if we would understand upon what sort
of evidence the guilt of obnoxious individuals was proclaimed as

No time was lost in commencing operations. On November 14th, three days
before Faukes signed the celebrated declaration which we have examined,
and in which Owen was not mentioned, the Earl of Salisbury wrote to
Edmondes, ambassador at Brussels,[371] that Faukes had now directly
accused Owen, whose extradition must therefore be demanded. In proof of
this assertion he inclosed a copy of the declaration, in which, however,
curiously enough, no mention of Owen's name occurs.[372]

Edmondes on his side was equally prompt. He at once laid the matter
before the archduke and his ministers, and on November 19th was able to
write to Salisbury that Owen and his secretary were apprehended and
their papers and ciphers seized, and that, "If there shall fall out
matter to charge Owen with partaking in the treason, the archduke will
not refuse the king to yield him to be answerable to justice,"[373]
though venturing to hope that he would be able to clear himself of so
terrible an accusation.

On "the last of November" the subject was pursued in an epistle from the
King himself to the "Archdukes,"[374] in which the undoubted guilt of
both Owen and Baldwin was roundly affirmed.[375]

On December 2nd, 1605, Salisbury wrote to Edmondes:[376] "I do warrant
you to deliver upon the forfeiture of my judgment in your opinion that
it shall appear as evident as the sun in the clearest day, that Baldwin
by means of Owen, and Owen directly by himself, have been particular

In spite of this, the authorities in Flanders asked for proofs of the
guilt of those whom they were asked to give up. Wherefore Edmondes wrote
(December 27th) to secure the co-operation of Cornwallis, his
fellow-ambassador, at Madrid. After declaring that Owen and Baldwin were
now found to have been "principal dealers in the late execrable
treason," with remarkable _naïveté_ he thus continues:[377]

"I will not conceal from your lordship that they have been here so
unrespective as to desire for their better satisfaction to have a copy
of the information against the said persons to be sent over hither;
which I fear will be very displeasing to his Majesty to understand."

In January (1605-6), Salisbury sending, in the King's name, instructions
to Sir E. Coke as to the trial of the conspirators, concluded with this
admonition:[378] "You must remember to lay Owen as foul in this as you
can," which certainly does not suggest that the case against him was
overwhelmingly strong.

After the execution of the traitors, an Act of Attainder passed by
Parliament included Owen amongst them.[379]

The archdukes remaining unconvinced, another and very notable argument
was brought into play. On February 12th, 1605-6, Salisbury wrote to

"As for the particular depositions against Owen and Baldwin, which the
archdukes desire to have a sight of, you may let them know that it is a
matter which can make but little to the purpose, considering that his
Majesty already upon his royal word hath certified the archdukes of
their guilt."

As to Owen's own papers which had been seized, the archduke assured the
English ambassador,[381] "that if there had been anything to have been
discovered out of the said papers touching the late treason (as he was
well assured of the contrary), he would not have failed to have imparted
the same to his Majesty."

At a later date the Spanish minister De Grenada wrote from
Valladolid[382] that men could not be delivered up on mere suspicion,
which might prove groundless, but that the archduke had received orders
to sift the matter to the bottom, in order that justice might be done
"very fully."

About the same time President Richardot informed Edmondes[383] that Owen
strenuously denied the charges against him, "and that there is the more
probability of his innocency for that his papers having been carefully
visited, there doth not appear anything in them to charge him concerning
the said matter."

On April 21st Salisbury informed Edmondes of a conference on the subject
between the king and the archduke's ambassador.[384] The latter declared
that his master was ready to prosecute the accused in his own courts if
evidence was furnished him, but in reply King James explained that this
was impossible, and that he "was loth to send any papers or accusations
over, not knowing how they might be framed or construed there by the
formalities of their laws." He added that it was useless now to talk of
evidence, "seeing the wretch is already condemned by the public sentence
of the whole Parliament, which sentence the archdukes might see if they
would." The ambassador thereupon asked to have a copy, but was curtly
told that it would presently be printed, when he could buy one for
twelve pence and send it to his masters, but that the king was not
disposed to make a present of it.

In these circumstances the archdukes determined to detain Owen no
longer, and he was presently discharged. The news of this proceeding
produced a remarkable change in the tone of his accusers. On June 18th,
the secretary wrote to Edmondes[385] that Owen's enlargement "seemed to
give too much credit to his innocency;" moreover, that "though his
Majesty showed no great disposition (for many considerations specified
unto you) to send over the papers and accusations against him, ... yet
this proceeded not out of any conscience of the invalidity of the
proofs, but rather in respect that his process being made here, and the
caitiff condemned by the public sentence of the Parliament, it would
have come all to one issue, seeing they have proceeded when his Majesty
left it to themselves to do as they thought fit."

To reinforce this lucid explanation Salisbury sent six days later what
had before been refused, an abstract of "confessions against Owen," and
a corrected copy of the Act of Attainder. These documents deserve some

We have seen how much stress was laid upon the action of Parliament in
regard of Owen, although the Act of Attainder which it passed affords no
information whatever to assist our judgment of his case. In moving for
this attainder, Sir E. Coke appeared at the bar of the House of Commons
(April 29th, 1606) to exhibit the evidence on which the charge rested.
His notes of this evidence, which are extant,[386] clearly show that the
government possessed no proofs at all beyond surmise and inference.[387]
Three testimonies were cited which were quite inconsistent and mutually
destructive: (1) An extract from a confession of Guy Faukes, January
20th, 1605-6, declaring that he had himself initiated Owen in the Plot
in May, 1605. (2) An information of one Ralph Ratcliffe, to the effect
that Owen and Baldwin were busy with the Plot in April, 1604. (3) T.
Winter's testimony--from his famous confession of November 23rd, or
25th, 1605--that in the spring of 1604 Owen had assisted him to secure
the services of Faukes.

In Salisbury's letter to Edmondes, the first and the last of these alone
were cited,[388] probably because it had by this time been perceived
that Ratcliffe's evidence flatly contradicted that of Faukes.

Winter's confession has already been discussed, and moreover affords no
proof that Owen was acquainted with the purpose for which the services
of Faukes were required. There remains the very circumstantial story of
Faukes himself, which belongs to a curious and interesting class of
documents, containing matter of the highest importance, whereof no
trace, not even a copy, is to be found amongst the State Papers. These
comprise various confessions of Faukes, dated November 19th, 25th, and
30th, 1605, and January 20th, 1605-6, all dealing with information of a
sensational nature, concerning which we learn nothing from the eleven
depositions of the same conspirator preserved in the Record Office.[389]
For our knowledge of these mysterious documents we have to depend on
transcripts of portions of them among the Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian
Library, on fragmentary Latin versions in the _Antilogia_ of Bishop
Abbot, and on the extract cited from the last amongst them by Sir Edward
Coke, which exactly agrees with that sent by Salisbury to Edmondes, as
above mentioned.

It cannot escape notice that although these versions all profess to be
taken from the originals under Faukes' hand, they are so utterly
different as to preclude the belief that they have been copied from the
same documents.[390]

It must farther be observed that we hear nothing of important matters
contained in these confessions till the supposed author and his
confederates were all dead, whereas these are such as would certainly
have been produced on their trial had this been possible.[391] Some of
the evidence thus afforded is, in fact, too good, for the Government's
purpose, to be true, for if authentic, it would have secured results
which, though much desired, were never obtained. In particular it would
have established beyond question the guilt of the Jesuits abroad, and
especially of Father Baldwin.[392] It is this Father, however, whose
case conclusively proves the utter worthlessness of the evidence. Having
been proclaimed and branded by the English government as a convicted
traitor, he, five years later, fell into their hands, being delivered
up, in 1610, by their ally the Elector Palatine. He was at once thrown
into the Tower, where he was frequently and rigorously examined, it is
said even on the rack.[393] After a confinement of eight years he was
discharged "with honour," his innocence being attested by the respect
with which he was treated by men of all parties.[394] In view of this
unquestionable acquittal the famous proofs of his criminality, though
certified on the royal word of King James himself, forfeit all claim to

A word may be added concerning Father Cresswell, an English Jesuit
residing in Spain. He, too, was assumed to have been deeply implicated
in this and other treasons. In November, 1605, Cecil included his name
in a list of traitors against whom proofs were to be procured.[395] It
was even asserted that at the time of the intended explosion he came
over to England "to bear his part with the rest of his Society in a
victorial song of thanksgiving."[396] He was, moreover, loudly denounced
as the principal agent in the notorious Spanish Treason.

After all this it is somewhat surprising to find Sir Charles Cornwallis,
the English Ambassador, while the excitement of the Powder Plot was at
its height, testifying in the most cordial terms to his esteem for the
said Cresswell. The latter having been called to Rome by his superiors,
Cornwallis (December 23rd, N.S. 1605,) addressed to him the following

    "Sir, although in matter of religion well you know that there are
    many discords between us, yet sure in your duty and loyalty to my
    King and Country I find in you so good a concordance I cannot but
    much reverence and love you, and wish you all the happiness that a
    man of your sort upon the earth can desire.

    "Much am I (I assure you) grieved at your departure, and the more
    that I was put in so good hope that your journey should have been
    stayed. The time of the year unpleasant to travel in, your body, as
    I think, not much accustomed to journeys of so great length, and the
    great good you did here to your poor countrymen (which now they
    want) are great motives to make your friends to wish your will in
    that voyage had been broken.

    "If it be not, I shall not believe in words, for many here do
    greatly desire you for causes spiritual, and some for temporal. In
    the latter number am I, who, not affecting your spiritualities (for
    that these in you abound to superfluity), do much reverence and
    respect your temporal abilities, as wherein I acknowledge much
    wisdom, temper, and sincerity. So no friends you have shall ever
    more desire good unto you than myself. And therefore I wish I were
    able to make so good demonstration as willingly I would that I ever
    will here and in all places in this world rest

    "Your very assured loving friend,

    "CH. CO."

About the same time, in an undated letter to Lord Salisbury,[398]
Cornwallis again expresses his regret on account of the removal of
Cresswell from Spain.

vi. _Other Documents._

It is impossible to analyze in detail the evidence supplied by the
several conspirators after their capture, or to examine the endless
inconsistencies and contradictions with which it abounds. One or two
points must, however, be indicated.

1. As we have seen, it is clear that at the beginning an effort was made
to invest the Plot with a far wider political significance than was
afterwards attempted, and to introduce elements which were soon quietly
laid aside. In the interrogatories prepared by Sir E. Coke and Chief
Justice Popham, we find it suggested that the death of the Earl of
Salisbury was a main feature of the scheme, "absolutely agreed upon"
among the conspirators. Also that the titular Earl of Westmoreland, the
titular Lord Dacre, the Earl of Northumberland, Sir Walter Raleigh, and
others were mixed up in the business.

Nor were such endeavours altogether fruitless, for, supposing the
testimony extorted from the prisoners to be worthy of credit,
information was obtained altogether changing the character and
complexion of the design. This was, however, presently buried in
oblivion and treated as of no moment whatever.

Thus in Sir Everard Digby's declaration of Nov. 23rd,[399] we find him
testifying that the Earls of Westmoreland and Derby,[400] were to have
been sent to raise forces in the north. Faukes, in the famous confession
which we have so fully discussed, was made to say "They meant also to
have sent for the prisoners in the Tower to have come to them, of whom
particularly they had some consultation," and although this important
clause was omitted from the finished version finally adopted, it appears
in that of Nov. 14th, sent by Cecil to the ambassador at Brussels.
Again, in his examination of November 9th, famous for the ghastly
evidence of torture afforded by his signature, we find Faukes declaring,
"He confesseth also that there was speech amongst them to draw Sir
Walter Rawley to take part with them, being one that might stand them in
good stead, _as others in like sort were named_."[401]

With regard to Raleigh it must be remembered that he was in a very
special manner obnoxious to Salisbury, who, however, was at great pains
to disguise his hostility. On occasion of Sir Walter's trial, in 1603,
he vehemently protested that it was a great grief to him to have to
pronounce against one whom he had hitherto loved.[402] But two years
earlier, in his secret correspondence with James, he had not only
described Raleigh to the future king as one of the diabolical
triplicity hatching cockatrice eggs, but had solemnly protested that if
he feigned friendship for such a wretch, it was only with the purpose of
drawing him on to discover his real nature.[403]

2. Even more worthy of notice is the shameless manner in which evidence
was falsified. That produced in court consisted entirely of the written
depositions of the prisoners themselves, and of those who had been
similarly examined. It was, however, carefully manipulated before it was
read; all that told in favour of those whose conviction was desired
being omitted, and only so much retained as would tell against them. On
this subject Mr. Jardine well remarks:[404] "This mode of dealing with
the admissions of an accused person is pure and unmixed injustice; it is
in truth a forgery of evidence; for when a qualified statement is made,
the suppression of the qualification is no less a forgery than if the
whole statement had been fabricated."

It will be sufficient to cite one notorious and compendious example.
In regard of the oath of secrecy taken by the conspirators, Faukes (Nov.
9th, 1605) and Thomas Winter (Jan. 9th, 1605-6) related how they
administered it to one another, "in a chamber," to quote Winter, "where
no other body was," and afterwards proceeded to another chamber where
they heard Mass and received Communion at the hands of Father
Gerard.[405] Both witnesses, however, emphatically declared that the
Father knew nothing of the oath that had been taken, or of the purpose
of the associates.


Such testimony in favour of one whom they were anxious above all things
to incriminate, the government would not allow to appear. Accordingly,
Sir E. Coke, preparing the documents to be used in court as evidence,
marked off the exculpatory passages, with directions that they were not
to be read.[406] Having thus suppressed the passage which declared that
the Jesuit was unaware of the conspirators' purpose, and of their oath,
Coke went on to inform the jury, in his speech, "This oath was by Gerard
the Jesuit given to Catesby, Percy, Christopher Wright, and Thomas
Winter, and by Greenwell [Greenway] the Jesuit to Bates at another time,
and so to the rest."[407]

3. Neither must it be forgotten that even apart from these manifest
instances of tampering, the confessions themselves, obtained in such
circumstances, are open to much suspicion. In an intercepted letter to
Father Baldwin, of whom we have heard, Father Schondonck, another
Jesuit, then rector of St. Omers, speaks thus:[408] "I much rejoice
that, as I hear, there is no confession produced, by which, either in
court or at the place of execution, any of our society is accused of so
abominable a crime. This I consider a point of prime importance. _Of
secret confessions, or those extorted by violence or torture, less
account must be made; for we have many examples whereby the dishonesty
of our enemies in such matters has been fully displayed._"

Father John Gerard in his Autobiography[409] relates an experience of
his own which illustrates the methods employed to procure evidence such
as was required. When, in Queen Elizabeth's time, he had himself been
taken and thrown into prison, the notorious Topcliffe, the
priest-hunter, endeavoured to force him into an acknowledgment of
various matters of a treasonable character. Father Gerard undertook to
write what he had to say on the subject, and proceeded to set down an
explicit denial of what his questioner suggested. What followed he thus

"While I was writing this, the old man waxed wroth. He shook with
passion, and would fain have snatched the paper from me."

"'If you don't want me to write the truth,' said I, 'I'll not write at

"'Nay,' quoth he, 'write so and so, and I'll copy out what you have

"'I shall write what I please,' I answered, 'and not what _you_ please.
Show what I have written to the Council, for I shall add nothing but my

"_Then I signed so near the writing, that nothing could be put in
between._ The hot-tempered man, seeing himself disappointed, broke out
into threats and blasphemies: 'I'll get you into my power, and hang you
in the air, and show you no mercy: and then I shall see what God will
rescue you out of my hands.'"

It was not by Catholics alone that allegations of this sort were
advanced. Sir Anthony Weldon tells us[411] that on the trial of Raleigh
and Cobham, the latter protested that he had never made the declaration
attributed to him incriminating Raleigh. "That villain Wade,"[412] said
he, "did often solicit me, and, not prevailing, got me, by a trick, to
write my name on a piece of white paper, which I, thinking nothing, did;
so that if any charge came under my hand, it was forged by that villain
Wade, by writing something above my hand, without my consent or

Moreover, there exists undoubted evidence that the king's chief minister
availed himself upon occasion of the services of such as could
counterfeit handwriting and forge evidence against suspected persons.
One Arthur Gregory[413] appears to have been thus employed, and he
subsequently wrote to Salisbury reminding him of what he had done.[414]
After acknowledging that he owes his life to the secretary who knows how
to appreciate "an honest desire in respect of his Majesty's public
service," Gregory thus continues:

"Your Lordship hath had a present trial of that which none but myself
hath done before, _to write in another man's hand_, and, discovering the
secret writing being in blank, to abuse a most cunning villain in his
own subtlety, leaving the same at last in blank again, wherein although
there be difficulty their answers show they have no suspicion."

This the calendarer of State Papers believes to refer to the case of
Father Garnet, and it is certain from Gregory's own letter that at one
time he held a post in the Tower. Is it not possible that an explanation
may here be found of the strange circumstance, that perhaps the most
important of Father Garnet's examinations[415] bears an endorsement,
"This was forbydden by the King to be given in evidence"?

Gregory's letter, of which we have been speaking, has appended to it an
instructive postscript:

"Mr. Lieutenant expecteth something to be written in the blank leaf of a
Latin Bible, which is pasted in already for the purpose. I will attend
it, and whatsoever else cometh."[416]

vii. _Catholic Testimony._

It will not improbably be urged that the government history is confirmed
in all essential particulars by authorities to whom no exception can be
taken, namely, contemporary Catholic writers, and especially the Jesuits
Gerard and Greenway, whose narratives of the conspiracy corroborate
every detail concerning which doubts have been insinuated.

This argument is undoubtedly deserving of all consideration, but upon
examination appears to lose much of its force. If the narratives in
question agree with that furnished by the government, it is because they
are based almost entirely upon it, and upon those published confessions
of Winter and Faukes with which we are familiar.

On this point Father Gerard is very explicit:[417] "Out of [Mr. Thomas
Winter's] examination, with the others that were made in the time of
their imprisonment, I must gather and set down all that is to be said or
collected of their purposes and proceedings in this heady enterprize.
For that, as I have said, they kept it so wholly secret from all men,
that until their flight and apprehension it was not known to any that
such a matter was in hand, and then there could none have access to them
to learn the particulars. But we must be contented with that which some
of those that lived to be examined, did therein deliver. Only for that
some of their servants that were up in arms with them in the country did
afterwards escape, somewhat might be learned by them of their carriage
in their last extremities, and some such words as they then uttered,
whereby their mind in the whole matter is something the more opened."

Elsewhere he writes, exhibiting more confidence in government documents
than we can feel:[418]

"[The prisoners'] examinations did all agree in all material points, and
therefore two only were published in print, containing the substance of
the rest. And indeed [this is] the sum of that which I have been able to
say in this narration touching either their first intentions or the
names or number of the conspirators, or concerning the course they took
to keep the matter so absolutely secret, or, finally, touching the
manner of their beginning and proceeding in the whole matter; for
that--as I noted before--it being kept a vowed secret in the heads and
hearts of so few, and those also afterwards apprehended before they
could have means to declare the particulars in any private manner,
therefore no more can be known of the matter or manner of this tragedy
than is found or gathered out of their examinations."

As for Greenway, it should not be forgotten that for the most part he
confined himself to translating Gerard's narrative from English into
Italian, though he supplemented it occasionally with items furnished by
his own experience as to the character and general conduct of the
conspirators on previous occasions, or during their last desperate
rally. Of this he was able to speak with more authority, as he not only
chanced to be in the immediate neighbourhood, but actually visited them
at Huddington House (the seat of Robert Winter) on November 6th, being
summoned thither by Catesby through his servant Bates.[419] Greenway,
like Gerard, constantly refers to the published confessions of Winter
and Faukes as the sources of his information.

It may here be observed that the practical identity of the narratives
of these two fathers was unknown to Mr. Jardine, who having seen only
that of Father Greenway, and believing it to be an original work,
founded upon this erroneous assumption an argument which loses its force
when we learn the real author to have been Gerard. Mr. Jardine maintains
that the narrator must, from internal evidence, have been an active and
zealous member of the conspiracy, "approving, promoting and encouraging
it with the utmost enthusiasm."[420] It so happens, however, that the
real author, Father Gerard, is just the one of the incriminated Jesuits
whose innocence is held by historians certainly not partial to his
Order, to be beyond question. Mr. Gardiner considers[421] that there is
"strong reason" to believe him not to have been acquainted with the
Plot. Dr. Jessopp is still more emphatic, and declares[422] that it is
impossible for any candid reader of all the evidence to doubt that
Gerard must be exonerated.

What has been said of Gerard and Greenway may serve also for Father
Garnet, who in his various examinations and other utterances assumes the
truth of the government story, for neither had he materials to go upon
except those officially supplied.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is obvious that the conclusion to be drawn from the above
considerations is chiefly negative. That the conspirators embarked on a
plot against the state, is, of course unquestionable. What was the
precise nature of that plot is by no means clear, and still less what
were the exact circumstances of its initiation and its collapse. This
only appears to be certain, that things did not happen as they were
officially related, while the elaborate care expended on the
falsification of the story seems to indicate that the true version would
not have served the purposes to which that story was actually put.


[332] _Criminal Trials_, ii. 235. Mr. Jardine is here speaking expressly
of the trial of Father Garnet, as reported in the book, but evidently
intends his observations to extend to that of the conspirators as well.

[333] _Ibid._ 105.

[334] _True and Perfect Relation_, Introduction.

[335] _Criminal Trials_, ii. 113.

[336] The contemporary, Hawarde (_Les Reportes del Cases in Camera
Stellata_) gives a report of the trial of the conspirators, under the
curious title "_Al le arraignemente del Traitors por le grande treason
of blowinge up the Parliamente Howse_," which, although evidently based
upon the official account, differs in two remarkable particulars. In the
first place it gives a different list of the commissioners by whom the
trial was conducted, omitting Justice Warburton, and including instead,
Lord Chief Baron Flemming, Justices Yelverton and Williams, and Baron
Saville. Moreover, Hawarde says that the king and queen "were both there
in pryvate," an important circumstance, of which the _True and Perfect
Relation_ says nothing.

[337] Viz., on January 30th and 31st: not January 31st and February 1st,
as Mr. Gardiner has it.

[338] Father Garnet clearly believed that this advantage was used
unscrupulously against him, for when certain evidence attributed to
Bates was cited, he replied that "Bates was a dead man," and would
testify otherwise if he were alive. (Brit. Mus. MSS. Add. 21203.
_Foley's Records_, iv. p. 188.)

[339] It is frequently said that the search at Hendlip was undertaken
not for Garnet but for Oldcorne, whose presence there was known by the
confession of Humphrey Littleton. But this confession was made several
days after the search had been begun, and the directions for it given by
Cecil to the sheriff, Sir H. Bromley, clearly indicate that he had in
view some capture of prime importance. (See Gardiner's _History_, i.
271, and Brit. Mus. MSS. Add. 6178, f. 693.)

[340] Viz.: Nottingham, Suffolk, Worcester, Devonshire, Northampton,
Salisbury, Marr, Dunbar, Popham, Coke, and Waad.

[341] In the "original," however, there are some passages which do not
appear in the copy, notably one in which Lord Monteagle is mentioned. It
appears, therefore, that the "copy" is not the first version produced,
but has been edited from another still earlier.

[342] That this is not a slip of the pen is evidenced by the fact that
Winter first wrote 23, and then corrected it to 25.

[343] Brit. Mus. MSS. Add. 6178, 84.

[344] The document is headed in the printed version: "Thomas Winter's
Confession, taken the Twenty-third of November, 1605, in the Presence of
the Counsellors, whose Names are underwritten."

[345] _Gunpowder Plot Book_, 49.

[346] The list stands thus: "L. Admyrall--L. Chamberlayn--Erle of
Devonshire--Erle of Northampton--Erle of Salisbury--Erle of Marr--L.
Cheif Justice--attended by Mr. Attorney Generall."

The Lord Admiral was the Earl of Nottingham, better known as Lord Howard
of Effingham, the commander-in-chief against the Spanish Armada. There
appears to be no foundation for the supposition that he was a Catholic.
Northampton (Henry Howard) was a professing Catholic. The chamberlain
was the Earl of Suffolk, the Chief Justice, Popham.

[347] The _Calendar of State Papers_ assigns this document, like the
other, to the 8th, a mistake not easy to understand, for not only is the
date clearly written, but the printed version in the "King's Book" gives
it correctly.

[348] _Gunpowder Plot Book_, 101.

[349] This was originally written "deposition;" the title is altered in
Coke's hand, who also added the words, "taken the 17 of Nov. 1605:
acknowledged before the Lords Commissioners."

[350] Thus the _examination_ of November 8th begins as follows: "He
confesseth that a Practise in generall was first broken unto him,
agaynst his Majesty, for the Catholique cause, and not invented, or
propounded by himself: and this was first propounded unto him, about
Easter last was twelvemonth, beyond the seas, in the Low Countreyes, by
an English Lay-man, and that English man came over with him in his
company, into England, and they tow and three more were the first five,
mencioned in the former examination," etc.

The _declaration_ of November 17th opens: "I confesse that a practise in
general was first broken unto me against his Majesty, for releife of the
Catholique cause, and not invented or propounded by myself. And this was
first propounded unto me about Easter last was twelvemonth, beyond the
Seas, in the Low Countries of the Archdukes obeysance, by Thomas Winter,
who came thereupon with me into England, and there wee imparted our
purpose to three other Englishmen more, namely Rob^t Catesby, Tho^s
Percy, and John Wright, who all five consulting together," etc. See both
documents in full, Appendix N.

[351] Thus, in the confession of November 8th, we read as follows: "He
confesseth, that it was resolved amonge them, that the same day that
this detestable act should have been performed, the same day [_sic_]
should other of their confederacye have surprised the person of the Lady
Elizabeth and presently have proclaimed her queen [to which purpose a
Proclamation was drawne, as well to avow and justifye the Action, as to
have protested against the Union, and in noe sort to have meddled with
Religion therein. And would have protested all soe against all
strangers,] and this Proclamation should have been made in the name of
the Lady Elizabeth."

The portion within brackets is cancelled, and the following substituted:
"He confesseth that if their purpose had taken effect, untill they had
power enough, they would not have avowed the deed to be theirs; but if
their power ... had been sufficient, they thereafter would have taken it
upon them."

The corresponding portion of the declaration of November 17th runs thus:
"It was further resolved amongst us, that the same day that this action
should have been performed, some other of our confederates should have
surprised the person of the L. Elizabeth, the King's eldest daughter,
... and presently proclaimed her for Queene, having a _project_ of a
Proclamation ready for the purpose, wherein we made no mention of
altering of Religion, nor would have avowed the deed to be ours, untill
we should have had power enough to make our partie good, and then we
would have avowed both."

[352] The printed version of Fauke's declaration is headed: "The true
Copy of the Deposition of Guido Fawkes, taken in the Presence of the
Counsellors, whose Names are under written."

[353] See Appendix K., _The Use of Torture_.

[354] In the _Calendar of State Papers_ he is continually styled "Father
Owen," or "Owen the Jesuit," without warrant in the original documents.
That he was a soldier and not a priest there is no doubt.

[355] _Dom. James I._ xvi. 38.

[356] E.g. _Item._ Where you have confessed that it was discoursed
between you that the prisoners in the Tower should have had intelligence
after the act done, declare the particularity of that discourse, and
whether some prisoners in the Tower should not have been called to
office or place, or have been employed, etc.

_Item._ Where you have confessed that the L. Elizabeth should have
succeeded, and that she should have been brought up as a Catholic, and
married to an English Catholic. (1) Who should have had the government
of her? (2) Who was nominated to be the fittest to have married her?

_Item._ Was it not resolved amongst you that after the act done you
would have taken the Tower, or any other place of strength, and meant
you not to have taken the spoil of London, and whom should you have
instantly proclaimed?

_Item._ By what priests or Jesuits were you resolved that it was godly
and lawful to execute the act?

_Item._ Whether was it not resolved that if it were discovered Catesby
and others should have killed the king coming from Royston?

_Item._ Were not Edw. Neville, calling himself Earl of Westmorland, Mr.
Dacre, calling himself Lord Dacre, or any of the Nobility, privy to it?
How many of the Nobility have you known at Mass? What persons in the
Tower were named to be partakers with you?

[357] To Edmondes, November 14th, 1605. (Stowe MSS.)

[358] _Viz., The True and Perfect Relation._ The confession of Bates is
mentioned but not textually quoted. It is in the "King's Book" that the
confessions of Winter and Faukes are given.

[359] "The great object of the government now was to obtain evidence
against the priests."--Gardiner, _History of England_, i. 267.

[360] See Rokewood's examination, December 2nd, 1605. (_Gunpowder Plot
Book_, 136.) In the confession of Keyes, November 30th, 1605 (_Gunpowder
Plot Book_, 126) we read: "He sayth that the reason that he revealed not
the project to his ghostly father was for that Catesby told him that he
had good warrant and authoritie that it might safely and with good
conscience be done," etc.

[361] _Gunpowder Plot Book_, 145.

[362] This is shown by a mark (§) in the margin opposite the important
passage, attention being called to this by the same mark, and the name
"Greenway" in the endorsement.

[363] Brit. Mus., Harleian 360, f. 96.

[364] Brit. Mus., Harleian 360, f. 109, etc. The reporter had clearly
been present.

[365] Brit. Mus., MSS. Add. 21, 203; Plut. ciii. F. Printed by Foley,
_Records_, iv. 164 _seq._

[366] _Narrative_, p. 210.

[367] Plut. ciii. F. § 39.

[368] Brit. Mus. MSS. Add. 6178, § 625.

[369] _Dom. James I._ xvi. 116.

[370] In the _Calendar of State Papers_, Mrs. Everett Green, as has been
said, quite gratuitously and without warrant from the original
documents, uniformly describes him as "Father Owen," or "Owen the
Jesuit." Mr. Gardiner (_Hist._ i. 242) has been led into the same error.

It is not impossible that Owen had some knowledge of the conspiracy,
though the course adopted by his enemies seems to afford strong
presumption to the contrary. It must, moreover, be remembered that, as
Father Gerard tells us, he and others similarly accused, vehemently
protested against the imputation, while in his case in particular we
have some evidence to the same effect. Thomas Phelippes, the
"Decipherer," of whom we have already heard, was on terms of close
intimacy with Owen, and in December, 1605, wrote to him about the Plot
in terms which certainly appear to imply a strong conviction that his
friend had nothing to do with it.

"There hath been and yet is still great paynes taken to search to the
bottom of the late damnable conspiracy. The Parliamente hit seemes shall
not be troubled with any extraordinarie course for their exemplarye
punishment, as was supposed upon the Kinges speeche, but onlye with
their attaynder, the more is the pitye I saye."--_Dom. James I._ xvii.

[371] Stowe MSS. 168, 54.

[372] This version of the deposition is interesting as being a form
intermediate between the draft of November 8th and the finished document
of November 17th. The passages cancelled in the former are simply
omitted without any attempt to complete the sense of the passages in
which they occurred. Those "ticked off" are retained.

[373] Stowe MSS. 168, 58.

[374] _I.e._, the Archduke Albert, and his consort the Infanta, daughter
of Philip II., who, as governors of the Low Countries, were usually so

[375] "Nous avons bien voulu aussy par ces presentes, nous mesmes vous
asseurer que ce qu'il [Edmondes] vous en a desja declaré, est fondé sur
tout verité; et vous dire en oultre, que ces meschantes Creatures d'Owen
et Baldouin, gens de mesme farine, ont eu aussi leur part en particulier
a ceste malheureuse conspiration de Pouldre."--_Phillipps' MS._ 6297, f.

[376] Stowe, 168, 65.

[377] Winwood, ii. 183.

[378] _Dom. James I._ xix. 94.

[379] 3^o _Jac. I._ c. 3. On the 21st of June following, Salisbury
forwarded to Edmondes a fresh copy of this Act, "because in the former
there was a great error committed in the printing." (Phillipps, f. 157.)
It would be highly interesting to know what the first version was. In
that now extant it is only said regarding Owen, that inasmuch as he
obstinately keeps beyond the seas, he cannot be arraigned, nor can
evidence and proofs be produced against him. (_Statutes at large._)

[380] Stowe, 168, 76; Phillipps, f. 141.

[381] Edmondes to Salisbury, January 23rd, 1605(6). P.R.O., Flanders,

[382] April 19th, 1606, _ibid._

[383] Edmondes to Salisbury, April 5th, 1606, _ibid._

[384] Phillipps, f. 150.

[385] Phillipps, f. 152.

[386] _Dom. James I._ xx. 52.

[387] This is obvious from a marginal note in Coke's own hand, arguing
that Owen must be guilty in this instance, as he has been guilty on
former occasions, and "Qui semel malus est semper præsumitur esse malus
in eodem genere mali."

[388] It will be noticed that the confession of Faukes cited against
Owen is dated two months after he had first been declared to be proved
guilty by Faukes' testimony.

[389] These are dated November 5th, 6th [bis], 7th, 8th [the "draft"],
9th, 16th, 17th, January 9th, 20th, 26th.

[390] Thus, to confine ourselves to the confession of January 20th, with
which we are particularly concerned, we have the following variations:

_Tanner transcript._ "At my going over M^r Catesby charged me two things
more: the one to desire of Baldwin & M^r Owen to deal with the Marquis
[Spinola] to send over the regiment of which he [Catesby] expected to
have been Lieutenant Colonel under Sir Charles [Percy].... He wished me
secondly to be earnest with Baldwin to deal with the Marquis to give the
said M^r Catesby order for a Company of Horse, thinking by that means to
have opportunity to buy Horses and Arms without suspition."

According to _Abbot_, Faukes was to give instructions that when the time
of Parliament approached, Sir Wm. Stanley was on some pretext to lead
the English forces in the archduke's service towards the sea, and with
them any others he could manage to influence. He also mentions the
conspiracy of Morgan, as spoken of by Coke.

In addition to all this, Abbot cites from the same confession the
following extraordinary particulars (p. 160): Faukes, when he came to
London, with T. Winter, went to Percy's house and found there Catesby
and Father Gerard. They talked over matters, and agreed that nothing was
to be hoped from foreign aid, nor from a general rising of Catholics,
and that the only plan was to strike at the king's person: whereupon
Catesby, Percy, John Wright, Winter, and himself, were sworn in by

[This is in absolute contradiction to Winter's evidence (November 23rd)
that Percy was initiated in the middle of the Easter term, the other
four having agreed on the scheme at the beginning of the same term; and
to that of Faukes himself (November 17th) that he and Winter first
resolved on a plot for the benefit of the Catholic cause, and afterwards
imparted their idea to Catesby, Wright, and Percy.]

_Sir E. Coke's Version._ "After the powder treason was resolved upon by
Catesbye, Thomas Winter, the Wrightes, my self, and others, and
preparation made by us for the execution of it, by their advise and
direction I went into fflanders and had leave given unto me to discover
our project in every particular to Hughe Owen and others, but with
condicion that they should sweare first to secrecie as we our selves had
done. When I arryved in fflanders I found M^r Owen at Bruxelles to whom
after I had given the oathe of secrecye I discovered the whole busines,
howe we had layed 20 whole barrells of powder in the celler under the
parliament howse, and howe we ment to give it fire the first day of the
parliament when the King, the prince, the duke, the Lords spirituall and
temporall, and all the knights, citizens, and burgesses of parliament
should be there assembled. And that we meant to take the Ladye Elizabeth
and proclaime hir for we thought most like that the prince and duke
would be there with the king. M^r Owen liked the plott very well, and
said that Thomas Morgan had once propounded the very same in quene
Elizabeth's time, and willed me that by ani meanes we should not make
any mencion of religion at the first, and assured me that so soone as he
should have certaine newes that this exploit had taken effect that he
would give us what assistance he could and that he would procure that
Sir W^m Stanley should have leave to come with those English men which
be there and what other forces he could procure."

The confession of Faukes in the Record Office, dated the same, January
20th, is thus summarized in the _Calendar of State Papers_ (_Dom. James
I._ xviii. 28): "Talked with Catesby about noblemen being absent from
the meeting of Parliament; he said Lord Mordaunt would not be there,
because he did not like to absent himself from the sermons, as the king
did not know he was a Catholic; and that Lord Stourton would not come to
town till the Friday after the opening."

[391] The powder design of Morgan is an instance in point. The Thomas
Morgan in question was doubtless the same as the partisan of Mary Queen
of Scots.

[392] _E.g._: "Winter came over to Owen, by him and the Fathers to be
informed of a fit and resolute man for the execution of the enterprise.
This examinate (being by the Fathers and Owen recommended to be used and
trusted in any action for the Catholicks) came into England with
Winter."--Faukes, November 19th, 1605 (Tanner MSS.).

Abbot, whose whole object is to incriminate the Jesuits, does not
mention this remarkable statement.

Again we read, November 30th (_ibid._): "Father Baldwin told this
examinate that about 2,000 horses would be provided by the Catholicks of
England to join with the Spanish forces ... and willed this examinate to
intimate so much to Father Creswell, which this examinate did."

[393] Oliver, _Collectanea_, sub nom.; Foley, _Records_, iv. 120, note.

[394] Foley, _Records_, iii. 509; _English Protestants' Plea_, p. 59.

[395] _Dom. James I._ xvi. 115.

[396] _England's Warning Peece_, by T. S. [Thomas Spencer], P.73.

[397] Cotton MSS. _Vespasian C._, ix. f. 259.

[398] Winwood, _Memorials_, ii. 178.

[399] _Dom. James I._ xvi. 104.

[400] William Stanley.

[401] The last words are added in another hand.

[402] "I am in great dispute with myself to speak in the case of this
gentleman. A former dearness between me and him tied so firm a knot of
my conceit of his virtues, now broken by discovery of his imperfections,
that I protest, did I serve a king that I knew would be displeased with
me for speaking, in this case I would speak, whatever came of it; but
seeing he is compacted of piety and justice, and one that will not
mislike of any man for speaking a truth, I will answer," etc.--_State

[403] "For this do I profess in the presence of Him that knoweth and
searcheth all men's harts, that if I did not some tyme cast a stone into
the mouth of these gaping crabbs, when they are in their prodigall
humour of discourses, they wold not stick to confess dayly how contrary
it is to their nature to be under your soverainty; though they confess
(Ralegh especially) that (_rebus sic stantibus_) naturall pollicy
forceth them to keep on foot such a trade against the great day of mart.
In all which light and soddain humours of his, though I do no way check
him, because he shall not think I reject his freedome or his affection
... yet under pretext of extraordinary care of his well doing, I have
seemed to dissuade him from ingaging himself so farr," etc.--_Hatfield
MSS._, cxxxv. f. 65.

[404] _Criminal Trials_, ii. 358.

[405] Father Gerard (_Narrative_, p. 201) denies in the most emphatic
terms that he was the priest who said mass on this occasion. The point
is fully discussed by the late Father Morris, S. J., in his Life of
Father Gerard, pp. 437-438.

[406] The accompanying facsimile of this portion of Faukes' confession
exhibits the marks made by Coke, and his added direction in the margin,
_hucusque_ ("thus far"). In the original his additions are in red ink.

[407] It is singular that he should not mention Faukes himself as one of
those who received the oath from Gerard. There is no mention in any
document of Greenway as giving the oath to Bates, or anyone else.

The facsimile of Faukes' signature, appended to his confession of
November 9th, though affording unmistakable evidence of torture, gives
no idea of the original, wherein the letters are so faintly traced as to
be scarcely visible. It is evident that the writer had been so severely
racked as to have no strength left in his hands to press the pen upon
the paper. He must have fainted when he had written his Christian name,
two dashes alone representing the other.

This signature, with other of the more sensational documents connected
with the Plot, is exhibited in the newly established museum at the
Record Office.

[408] _Dom. James I._ xviii. 97, February 27th, 1606, N. S. (Latin).

[409] _Narratio de rebus a se in Anglia gestis_ (Stonyhurst MSS.).
Published in Father G. R. Kingdon's translation under the title of
_During the Persecution_.

[410] _During the Persecution_, p. 83.

[411] _Court and Character of King James_, p. 350 (ed. 1811).

[412] Sir William Waad, Lieutenant of the Tower, to whose charge the
Powder Plot conspirators were committed, was afterwards dismissed from
his office on a charge of embezzling the jewels of the Lady Arabella

[413] Presumably the same Arthur Gregory who at an earlier period had
counterfeited the seals of Mary Queen of Scots' correspondence.

[414] _Dom. James I._ xxiv. 38.

[415] March 3rd, 1605-6 (Hatfield MSS.).

[416] Eudaemon Joannes cites the renegade Alabaster as testifying to
having seen a letter seemingly of his own to Garnet, which he had never
written. (_Answer to Casaubon_, p. 159.)

[417] _Narrative_, p. 54.

[418] _Ibid._ p. 113.

[419] Though we have not now to consider the question of Father
Greenway's connection with the conspirators, it may not be out of place
to cite his own account of this visit (_Narrative_, Stonyhurst MSS., f.
86 b):

"Father Oswald [Greenway] went to assist these gentlemen with the
Sacraments of the Church, understanding their danger and their need, and
this with evident danger to his own person and life: and all those
gentlemen could have borne witness that he publicly told them how he
grieved not so much because of their wretched and shameful plight, and
the extremity of their peril, as that by their headlong course they had
given the heretics occasion to slander the whole body of Catholics in
the kingdom, and that he flatly refused to stay in their company, lest
the heretics should be able to calumniate himself and the other Fathers
of the Society."

[420] In this, as in some other respects, Mr. Jardine shows himself
rather an advocate than an impartial historian. He holds that the
complicity of the writer of the _Narrative_ with the plotters is proved
by the intimate knowledge he displays concerning them, "their general
conduct--their superstitious fears--their dreams--'their thick coming
fancies'--in the progress of the work of destruction." (_Criminal
Trials_, ii. xi.)

There is here an evident allusion to the silly story of the "bell in the
wall" (related by Greenway and not by Gerard), to which Mr. Jardine
gives extraordinary prominence. He does not, however, inform us that
Greenway relates this (_Narrative_, f. 58 b) and some similar matters,
on the authority of "an acquaintance to whom Catesby told it shortly
before his death," and that he leaves it to the judgment of his readers.

Greenway's frequent and earnest protestations of innocence Mr. Jardine
summarily dismisses with the observation that they are "entitled to no
credit whatever" (p. xii).

[421] _History_, i. 243.

[422] _Dictionary of National Biography_ (Digby, Sir E.).



AS we have already seen, the Gunpowder Plot formed no exception to the
general law observable in conspiracies of its period, proving extremely
advantageous to those against whom it was principally directed. No
single individual was injured by it except those concerned in it, or
accused of being so concerned. On the other hand, it marked an epoch in
public policy, and irrevocably committed the king and the nation to a
line of action towards Catholics, which up to that time they had hoped,
and their enemies had feared, would not be permanently pursued.

"The political consequences of this transaction," says Mr. Jardine,[423]
"are extremely important and interesting. It fixed the timid and
wavering mind of the king in his adherence to the Protestant party, in
opposition to the Roman Catholics; and the universal horror, which was
naturally excited not only in England but throughout Europe by so
barbarous an attempt, was artfully converted into an engine for the
suppression of the Roman Catholic Church: so that the ministers of James
I., having procured the reluctant acquiescence of the king, and the
cordial assent of public opinion, were enabled to continue in full force
the severe laws previously passed against Papists, and to enact others
of no less rigour and injustice."

Such was the effect in fact produced, and the calm deliberation
displayed in dealing with the crisis appears to indicate that no
misgivings were entertained as to the chance of anything but advantage
resulting from it. We have already seen with what strange equanimity the
presence of the powder beneath the Parliament House was treated. Not
less serene was the attitude of the minister chiefly responsible for the
safety of the State in face of the grave dangers still declared to be
threatening, even after the "discovery." Preparations, it was officially
announced, had been made for an extensive rising of the Catholics, and
this had still to be reckoned with. As the king himself informed Sir
John Harington, the design was not formed by a few, the "whole legion of
Catholics" were implicated: the priests had been active in preaching the
holy war, and the Pope himself had employed his authority on behalf of
the cause.[424]

Moreover, the conspirators, except Faukes, escaped from London, and
hurried to the intended scene of action, where, though no man
voluntarily joined them, they were able at first to collect a certain
force of their own retainers and domestics, and began to traverse the
shires in which their influence was greatest, committing acts of plunder
and violence, and calling on all men to join them for God and the
country. For a couple of days the local magistrates did not feel strong
enough to cope with them, and forwarded to the capital reports capable,
it might be supposed, of alarming those who were bewildered by so
totally unexpected an assault, for which the evidence in hand showed
preparations of no ordinary magnitude to have been made. The numbers of
the insurgents, it was said, were constantly increasing; only a feeble
force could be brought against them; they were seizing horses and
ammunition, and all this in "a very Catholic country."

In his famous speech to Parliament, delivered on November 9th, the king
dwelt feelingly on the danger of the land, left exposed to the traitors,
in the absence of the members of the legislature, its natural guardians.
"These rebels," he declared,[425] "that now wander through the country
could never have gotten so fit a time of safety in their passage, or
whatsoever unlawful actions, as now; when the country, by the aforesaid
occasions, is, in a manner, left desolate and waste unto them."[426]

Meanwhile, however, the secretary remained imperturbably tranquil as
before, and so well aware of the true state of the case that he could
afford to make merry over the madcap adventurers. On the same 9th of
November he wrote to the ambassadors: "It is also thought fit that some
martial men should presently repair down to those countries where the
Robin Hoods are assembled, to encourage the good and to terrify the bad.
In which service the Earl of Devonshire is used, a commission going
forth for him as general: although I am easily persuaded that this
Faggot will be burnt to ashes before he shall be twenty miles on his

His prescience was not at fault, for before despatching the letter the
minister was able to announce the utter collapse of the foolish and
unsupported enterprise.

No time was lost in turning the defeated conspiracy to practical
account. On the very 5th of November[427] itself the Commons proceeded,
before all other business, to the first reading of a bill for the better
execution of penal statutes against Recusants. On the following day this
was read a second time. The house next met on the 9th, to hear the
king's speech, and was then prorogued to January 21st following. On that
day, the foremost article on the programme was the first reading of a
bill (whether the same or another) for the better execution of penal
statutes; another was likewise proposed for prevention of the danger of
papistical practices; and a committee was appointed "to consider of some
course for the timely and severe proceeding against Jesuits, Seminaries,
and other popish agents and practisers, and for the prevention and
suppression of their plots and practices."[428] On the 22nd there was a
motion directed against the seminaries beyond the seas, and the bill for
better execution of penal statutes was read a second time. On the 23rd
the bill for a public thanksgiving was read twice, being finally passed
on the 25th. Its preamble runs thus: "Forasmuch as ... no nation of the
earth hath been blessed with greater benefits than this kingdom now
enjoyeth, having the true and free profession of the gospel under our
most gracious sovereign lord King James, the most great, learned, and
religious king that ever reigned therein ... the which many malignant
and devilish papists, Jesuits, and seminary priests, much envying and
fearing, conspired most horribly ..." and so forth.

Thus did the Commons set to work, and the other House, though they
declined to sanction all that was proposed in the way of exceptional
severity towards the actual conspirators, were no wise lacking in zeal
against the Catholic body.

The course of legislation that ensued is thus described by Birch:[429]

"The discovery of the Plot occasioned the Parliament to enjoin the oath
of allegiance to the king, and to enact several laws against Popery, and
especially against the Jesuits and Priests who, as the Earl of Salisbury
observed,[430] sought to bring all things into confusion.... In passing
these laws for the security of the Protestant religion, the Earl of
Salisbury exerted himself with distinguished zeal and vigour, which
gained him great love and honour from the kingdom, as appeared, in some
measure, in the unusual attendance upon him at his installation into the
Order of the Garter, on the 20th of May, 1606,[431] at Windsor."

It is, indeed, abundantly clear that beyond all others this statesman
benefited by the Plot, in consequence of which he obtained, at least for
a time, a high degree of both power and popularity. His installation at
Windsor, above mentioned, was an almost regal triumph. Baker notes[432]
that he was attended on the occasion "beyond ordinary promotion." Howes
writes[433] that he "set forward from his house in the Strand, being
almost as honourably accompanied, and with as great a train of lords,
knights, gentlemen, and officers of the Court, with others besides his
peculiar servants, very richly attired and bravely mounted, as was the
King when he rid in state through London."

Neither were there wanting to the secretary other advantages which, if
less showy, were not less substantial. It will be remembered how, in
his secret correspondence with the King of Scots before the death of
Elizabeth, Cecil had constantly endeavoured to turn the mind of his
future sovereign against the Earl of Northumberland, whom he declared to
be associated with Raleigh and Cobham in a "diabolical triplicity," and
to be "a sworn enemy of King James."[434] These efforts had not been
altogether successful, and though Cobham and Raleigh had been
effectually disposed of in connection with the conspiracy known as the
"Main," Northumberland was still powerful, and was thought by many to be
Cecil's most formidable rival. As one result of the Gunpowder Plot, he
now disappeared for ever from public life.

[Illustration: THE POWDER PLOT. III.]

When we remember the terms in which the secretary had previously
described him, as well as the result about to ensue, it is not a little
startling to remark with what emphasis it was protested, in season and
out, that a ruling principle of the government's action was to do
nothing which might even seem to cast a slur upon the earl's character,
while at the same time the very point is artfully insinuated which was
to be turned against him.[435] Thus in the "King's Book," in explanation
of the curious roundabout courses adopted in connection with the
"discovery," we are told that a far-fetched excuse was devised for the
search determined upon, lest it might "lay an ill-favoured imputation
upon the Earl of Northumberland, one of his Majesty's greatest subjects
and counsellors; this Thomas Percy being his kinsman and most confident
familiar." So again Cecil wrote to the ambassadors: "It hath been
thought meet in policy of State (all circumstances considered) to commit
the Earl of Northumberland to the Archbishop of Canterbury, there to be
honourably used, until things be more quiet. Whereof if you shall hear
any judgment made, as if his Majesty or his council could harbour a
thought of such a savage practice to be lodged in such a nobleman's
breast, you shall do well to suppress it as a malicious discourse and
invention, this being only done to satisfy the world that nothing be
undone which belongs to policy of State, when the whole monarchy was
proscribed to dissolution; and being no more than himself discreetly
approved when he received the sentence of the council for his

Yet what was the issue? A series of charges were brought against
Northumberland, all of which broke down except that of having, as
Captain of the Royal Pensioners, admitted Percy amongst them without
exacting the usual oath. He in vain demanded an open trial, and was
brought before the Star Chamber, by which, after he had been assailed by
Coke in the same violent strain previously employed against Raleigh, he
was sentenced to forfeit all offices which he held under the Crown, to
be imprisoned during the king's pleasure, and to pay a fine of £30,000,
equal to at least ten times that sum at the present day.

As if this were not enough, fresh proceedings were taken against him six
years later, when he was again subjected to examination, and again, says
Lingard,[436] foiled the ingenuity or malice of his persecutor.

It seems, therefore, by no means extraordinary that men, as we have
heard from the French ambassador, should have commonly attributed the
earl's ruin to the resolution of his great rival to remove from his own
path every obstacle likely to be dangerous, or that Cecil should himself
bear witness,[437] in 1611, to the "bruites" touching Northumberland
which were afloat, and should be anxious, as "knowing how various a
discourse a subject of this nature doth beget," to "prevent any
erroneous impression by a brief narrative of the true motive and
progress of the business."

As to Northumberland's own sentiments, he, we are told by Osborne,[438]
declared that the blood of Percy would refuse to mix with that of Cecil
if they were poured together in the same basin.

It is, moreover, evident not only that the great statesman, to use
Bishop Goodman's term, actually profited largely by the powder business,
but that from the first he saw in it a means for materially
strengthening his position; an opportunity which he lost no time in
turning to account by making it appear that in such a crisis he was
absolutely necessary to the State. This is shown by the remarkable
manifesto which he promptly issued, a document which appears to have
been almost forgotten, though well deserving attention.

A characteristic feature of the traitorous proceedings of the period was
the inveterate habit of conspirators to drop compromising documents in
the street, or to throw them into yards and windows. In the court of
Salisbury House was found, in November, 1605, a threatening letter, more
than usually extraordinary. It purported to come from five Catholics,
who began by unreservedly condemning the Gunpowder Plot as a work
abhorred by their co-religionists as much as by any Protestants. Since,
however, his lordship, beyond all others, seemed disposed to take
advantage of so foul a scandal, in order to root out all memory of the
Catholic religion, they proceeded to warn him that they had themselves
vowed his death, and in such fashion that their success was certain.
None of the accomplices knew who the others were, but it was settled who
should first make the attempt, and who, in order, afterwards. Moreover,
death had no terrors for any of them, two being stricken with mortal
sickness, which must soon be fatal; while the other three were in such
mental affliction as not to care what became of them.

As a reply to this strange effusion Cecil published a tract,[439]
obviously intended as a companion to the famous "King's Book," in which
with elaborate modesty he owned to the impeachment of being more zealous
than others in the good cause, and protested his resolution, at whatever
peril to himself, to continue his services to his king and country. The
sum and substance of this curious apology is as follows.

Having resolved to recall his thoughts from the earthly theatre to
higher things, which statesmen are supposed overmuch to neglect, he had
felt he could choose no better theme for his meditations than the
"King's Book," wherein so many lively images of God's great favour and
providence are represented, every line discovering where Apelles' hand
hath been; so that all may see there needs now no Elisha to tell the
King of Israel what the Aramites do in their privatest councils.

While in this most serious and silent meditation, divided between
rapture at God's infinite mercy and justice, and thought of his own
happiness to live under a king pleasing to God for his zealous
endeavours to cleanse the vessels of his kingdom from the dregs and lees
of the Romish grape,--and while his heart was not a little cheered to
observe any note of his own name in the royal register, for one that had
been of any little use in this so fortunate discovery,--as the poor day
labourer who taketh contentment when he passeth that glorious
architecture, to the building whereof he can remember to have carried
some few sticks and stones,--while thus blissfully engaged, he is
grieved to find himself singled out from the honourable body of the
council,--why, he knows not, for with it he would be content to be
identified--as the author of the policy which is being adopted; and,
conscious that in his humble person the Body of Authority is assailed,
he thinks it well, for once, to make a reply.

Having recited the threatening letter in full, he presently continues:

"Though I participate not in the follies of that fly who thought herself
to raise the dust because she sat on the chariot-wheel, yet I am so far
from disavowing my honest ambition of my master's favour, as I am
desirous that the world should hold me, not so much his creature, by the
undeserved honours I hold from his grace and power, as my desire to be
the shadow of his mind, and to frame my judgment, knowledge, and
affections according to his. Towards whose Royal Person I shall glory
more to be always found an honest and humble subject, than I should to
command absolutely in any other calling."

Of those who threaten him he says very little, assuming, however, as
self-evident, that they are set on by some priest, who, after the manner
of his tribe, doth "carry the unlearned Catholics, like hawks hooded,
into those dangerous positions."

But, as for himself, let the world understand that he is not the man to
neglect his duty on account of the personal danger it entails. "Far I
hope it shall be from me, who know so well in whose HOLY BOOK my days
are numbered, once to entertain a thought to purchase a span of time, at
so dear a rate, as for the fear of any mortal power, in my poor talent,
_Aut Deo, aut Patriæ, aut Patri patriæ deesse_."[440]

In spite of the singular ability of this manifesto, the art of the
writer is undoubtedly somewhat too conspicuous to permit us to accept it
as the kind of document which would be produced by one who felt himself
confronted by a serious peril. An interesting and most pertinent
commentary is supplied by a contemporary Jesuit, Giles Schondonck,
Rector of St. Omers College, in a letter to Father Baldwin, the same of
whom we have already heard in connection with the Plot.[441]

Schondonck has, he says, read and re-read Cecil's book, which Baldwin
had lent him. If his opinion be required, he finds in it many flowers of
wit and eloquence, and it is a composition well adapted for its object;
but the original letter which has evoked this brilliant rejoinder is a
manifest fraud, not emanating from any Catholic, but devised by the
enemies of the Church for her injury. The writers plainly contradict
themselves. They begin by denouncing the Powder Plot as impious and
abominable, and they do so most righteously, and they declare its
authors to have been turbulent spirits and not religious, in which also
they are right. But they go on to approve the design of murdering Cecil.
What sense is there in this? If the one design be impious and
detestable, with what colour or conscience can the other be approved?
There is no difference of principle, though in the one case many were to
be murdered, in the other but a single man. No one having in him any
spark of religion could defend either project, much less approve it.
Moreover, much that is set down is simply ridiculous. Men in the last
extremity of sickness, or broken down by sorrow, are not of the stuff
whereof those are made by whom desperate deeds are done.

From another Jesuit we obtain instructive information which at least
serves to show what was the opinion of Catholics as to the way in which
things were being managed. This is conveyed in a letter addressed
December 1st, 1606, to the famous Father Parsons by Father Richard
Blount, Father Garnet's successor as superior of the English
mission.[442] It must be remembered that this was not meant for the
public eye, and in fact was never published. It cannot have been
intended to obtain credence for a particular version of history, and it
was written to him who, of all men, was behind the scenes so far as the
English Jesuits were concerned. Much of it is in cipher which,
fortunately, has been interpreted for us by the recipient.

Blount begins with a piece of intelligence which is startling enough.
Amongst the lords of the council none was a more zealous enemy of Popery
than the chamberlain, the Earl of Suffolk,[443] who was more than once
on the commission for expelling priests and Jesuits, and had in
particular been so energetic in the matter of the Powder Plot that
Salisbury modestly confessed that in regard of the "discovery" he had
himself been "much less forward."[444] Now, however, we are told, only a
twelvemonth later, that this nobleman and his wife are ready for a
sufficient fee to procure "some kind of peace" for the Catholics. The
needful sum may probably be raised through the Spanish Ambassador, but
the issue is doubtful "because Salisbury will resist."--"Yet such is the
want of money with the chamberlain at this time--whose expenses are
infinite--that either Salisbury must supply, or else he must needs break
with him."[445]

After some particulars concerning the jealousy against the Scots, and
the matter of the union (which "sticketh much in the Parliament's
teeth") Blount goes on to relate how Cecil has been attempting to float
a second Powder Plot--the scene being this time the king's court itself.
He has had another letter brought in, to set it going, and had seemingly
calculated on capturing the writer himself and some of his brethren in
connection with it. In this, however, he has been foiled, and the matter
appears to have been dropped. In Blount's own words:[446]

"Now these last days we expected some new stratagem, because Salisbury
pretended a letter to be brought to his lordship found by chance in St.
Clement's Churchyard, written in ciphers, wherein were many persons
named, and a question asked, whether there were any concavity under the
stage in the court. But belike the device failed, and so we hear no
words of it. About this time this house was ransacked, where by chance
Blount came late the night before, finding four more, Talbot, N. Smith,
Wright, Arnold; being all besieged from morning to night. If things had
fallen out as was expected, then that letter would have haply been
spoken of, whereas now it is very secret, and only served to pick a
thanks of King James, with whom Salisbury keepeth his credit by such
tricks, as upon whose vigilancy his majesty's life dependeth."

       *       *       *       *       *

One other feature of the after history demands consideration. As Fuller
tells us,[447] "a learned author, making mention of this treason,
breaketh forth into the following rapture:

    'Excidat illa dies aevo, ne postera credant
    Saecula; nos certe taceamus, et obruta multâ
    Nocte tegi propriae patiamur crimina gentis.'

    'Oh, let that day be quite dashed out of time,
      And not believ'd by the next generation;
    In night of silence we'll conceal the crime,
      Thereby to save the credit of the nation.'"

"A wish," he adds, "which in my opinion, hath more of poetry than of
piety therein, and from which I must be forced to dissent." Assuredly
if it were judged that silence and oblivion should be the lot of the
conspiracy, no stranger means were ever adopted to secure the desired
object. A public thanksgiving was appointed to be held every year, on
the anniversary of the "discovery;" a special service for that day was
inserted in the Anglican liturgy, and Gunpowder Plot Sermons kept the
memory of the Treason green in the mind not of one but of many

Moreover, the country was flooded with literature on the subject, in
prose and rhyme, and the example of Milton is sufficient to show how
favourite a topic it was with youthful poets essaying to try their

In regard of the history, one line was consistently adopted. The Church
of England in its calendar marked November 5th, as the _Papists'
Conspiracy_, and in the collect appointed for the day the king and
estates of the realm were described as being "by Popish treachery
appointed as sheep to the slaughter, in a most barbarous and savage
manner, beyond the examples of former ages." Similarly, preachers and
writers alike concurred in saying little or nothing about the actual
conspirators, but much about the iniquity of Rome; the official
character of the Plot, and its sanction, even its first suggestion, by
the highest authorities of the Church, being the chief feature of the
tale hammered year after year into the ears of the English people. The
details of history supplied are frequently pure and unmixed fables.[449]

[Illustration: THE POWDER PLOT. IV.]

Nor was the pencil less active than the pen in popularizing the same
belief. Great was the ingenuity spent in devising and producing pictures
which should impress on the minds of the most illiterate a holy horror
of the Church which had doomed the nation to destruction. One of the
most elaborate of these was headed by an inscription which admirably
summarizes the moral of the tale.

THE POWDER TREASON.--Propounded by _Satan_: Approved by _Antichrist_
[_i.e._ the Pope]: Enterprised by _Papists_: Practized by _Traitors_:
Revealed by an _Eagle_ [Monteagle]: Expounded by an _Oracle_ [King
James]: Founded in _Hell_: Confounded in _Heaven_.

Accordingly we find representations of Lucifer, the Pope, the King of
Spain, the General of the Jesuits, and other such worthies, conspiring
in the background while the redoubtable Guy walks arm in arm with a
demon to fire the mine, the latter grasping a papal Bull (unknown to the
Bullarium), expedited to promote the project: or again, Faukes and
Catesby stand secretly conspiring in the middle of the street, while
Father Garnet, in full Jesuit habit (or what is meant for such) exhorts
them to go on: or a priest gives the conspirators "the sacrament of
secrecy;" or representative Romish dignitaries blow threats and curses
against England and her Parliament House,--or the Jesuits are buried in
Hell in recompense of their perfidy.

It cannot, however, escape remark that while the limners have been
conscientiously careful in respect of these details, they have one and
all discarded accuracy in regard of another matter in which we might
naturally have expected it. In no single instance is Guy Faukes
represented as about to blow up the right house. Sometimes it is the
House of Commons that he is going to destroy, more frequently the
Painted Chamber, often a nondescript building corresponding to nothing
in particular,--but in no single instance is it the House of Lords.

[Illustration: THE POWDER PLOT. V.]

The most extraordinary instance of so strange a vagary is afforded by a
plate produced immediately after the occurrence it commemorates, in the
year 1605 itself.[450] In this, Faukes with his inseparable lantern, but
without the usual spurs, is seen advancing to the door of the "cellar,"
which stands conspicuous above ground. Aloft is seen the crescent moon,
represented in exactly the right phase for the date of the
discovery.[451] The accuracy exhibited as to this singular detail makes
it more than ever extraordinary that the building to which he directs
his steps is unquestionably St. Stephen's Chapel--The House of Commons.

One point of the history, in itself apparently insignificant, was at the
time invested with such extravagant importance, as to suggest a question
in its regard, namely the day itself whereon the marvellous deliverance
took place. A curious combination of circumstances alone assigned it to
the notorious Fifth of November. Parliament, as we have seen, was
originally appointed to meet on the 3rd of October, but was suddenly
adjourned for about a month, and so little reason did there seem to be
for the prorogation[452] as to fill the conspirators with alarm lest
some suspicion of their design had prompted it; wherefore they sent
Thomas Winter to attend the prorogation ceremony, and observe the
demeanour of those who took part in it. Afterwards, though the discovery
might have easily been made any time during the preceding week, nothing
practical was done till the fateful day itself had actually begun, when,
as the acute Lingard has not failed to observe, a remarkable change at
once came over the conduct of the authorities, who discarding the
aimless and dilatory manner of proceeding which had hitherto
characterized them, went straight to the point with a promptitude and
directness leaving nothing to be desired.

Whatever were their motive in all this, the action of the government
undoubtedly brought it about that the great blow should be struck on a
day which not a little enhanced the evidence for the providential
character of the whole affair. Tuesday was King James' lucky day, more
especially when it happened to be the 5th of the month, for on Tuesday,
August the 5th, 1600, he had escaped the mysterious treason of the

This coincidence evidently created a profound impression. "Curious folks
observe," wrote Chamberlain to Carleton,[453] "that this deliverance
happened on the fifth of November, answerable to the fifth of August,
both Tuesdays; and this plot to be executed by Johnson [the assumed name
of Faukes], and that at Johnstown [_i.e._, Perth]." On the 27th of
November, Lake suggested to the Archbishop of Canterbury,[454] that as
a perpetual memorial of this so providential circumstance, the
anniversary sermon should always be delivered upon a Tuesday. Two days
later, the Archbishop wrote to his suffragans,[455] reminding them how
on a Tuesday his majesty had escaped the Gowries, and now, on another
Tuesday, a peril still more terrible, which must have ruined the whole
nation, had not the Holy Ghost illumined the king's heart with a divine
spirit. In remembrance of which singular instance of God's governance,
there was to be an annual celebration.[456]

Most important of all, King James himself much appreciated the
significance of this token of divine protection, and not only impressed
this upon his Parliament, but proroguing it forthwith till after
Christmas, selected the same propitious day of the week for its next
meeting, as a safeguard against possible danger. "Since it has pleased
God," said his majesty,[457] "to grant me two such notable deliveries
upon one day of the week, which was Tuesday, and likewise one day of the
month, which was the fifth, thereby to teach me that as it was the same
devil that still persecuted me, so it was one and the same God that
still mightily delivered me, I thought it therefore not amiss, that the
twenty-first day which fell to be upon Tuesday, should be the day of
meeting of this next session of parliament, hoping and assuring myself,
that the same God, who hath now granted me and you all so notable and
gracious a delivery, shall prosper all our affairs at that next session,
and bring them to an happy conclusion."

       *       *       *       *       *

Whatever may be thought of this particular element of its history, it is
perfectly clear that the fashion in which the Plot was habitually set
before the English people, and which contributed more than anything else
to work the effect actually produced, was characterized from the first
by an utter disregard of truth on the part of those whose purposes it so
opportunely served, and with such lasting results.


The evidence available to us appears to establish principally two
points,--that the true history of the Gunpowder Plot is now known to no
man, and that the history commonly received is certainly untrue.

It is quite impossible to believe that the government were not aware of
the Plot long before they announced its discovery.

It is difficult to believe that the proceedings of the conspirators were
actually such as they are related to have been.

It is unquestionable that the government consistently falsified the
story and the evidence as presented to the world, and that the points
upon which they most insisted prove upon examination to be the most

There are grave reasons for the conclusion that the whole transaction
was dexterously contrived for the purpose which in fact it opportunely
served, by those who alone reaped benefit from it, and who showed
themselves so unscrupulous in the manner of reaping.


[423] _Criminal Trials_, ii. I.

[424] _Nugæ Antiquæ_, i. 374.

[425] _Harleian Miscellany_, iv. 249.

[426] This terrible state of things was alleged as a principal reason
for the prorogation of the Parliament for two months and a half. As a
matter of fact, the rebels had been overthrown and captured the day
before that on which the king's speech was delivered, and news of that
event was received that same evening.

[427] _Commons' Journals._

[428] In the preamble of the Act so passed we read: "Forasmuch as it is
found by daily experience, that many his Majesty's subjects that adhere
in their hearts to the popish religion, by the infection drawn from
thence, and by the wicked and devilish counsel of Jesuits, seminaries,
and other like persons dangerous to the church and state, are so
perverted in the point of their loyalties and due allegiance unto the
King's majesty, and the Crown of England, as they are ready to entertain
and execute any treasonable conspiracies and practices, as evidently
appears by that more than barbarous and horrible attempt to have blown
up with gunpowder the King, Queen ..." etc., etc.

[429] _Negotiations_, p. 256.

[430] "Our parliament is prorogued till the 18th of next November. Many
things have been considerable in it, but especially the zeal of both
Houses for the preservation of God's true religion, by establishing many
good laws against Popery and those firebrands, Jesuits, and Priests,
that seek to bring all things into confusion. His Majesty resolveth once
more by proclamation to banish them all; and afterwards, if they shall
not obey, then the laws shall go upon them without any more
forbearance."--Cecil to Winwood, June 7th, 1606 (Winwood, _Memorials_,
ii. 219).

[431] In the _Dictionary of National Biography_, and Doyle's _Official
Baronage_, this installation is erroneously assigned to 1605.

[432] _Chronicle_, p. 408.

[433] Continuation of Stowe's _Annals_, p. 883.

[434] Letter iii.

[435] At Northumberland's trial Lord Salisbury thus expressed
himself: "I have taken paines in my nowne heart to clear my lord's
offences, which now have leade me from the contemplation of his
virtues; for I knowe him vertuous, wyse, valiaunte, and of use and
ornamente to the state.... The cause of this combustion was the
papistes seekinge to restore their religion. Non libens dico, sed res
ipsa loquitur."--Hawarde, _Les Reportes_, etc.

[436] _History_, vii. 84, note. On this subject Mr. Sawyer, the editor
of Winwood (1715), has the following remark: "We meet with some account
of his [Northumberland's] offence, though couched in such tender terms,
that 'tis a little difficult to conceive it deserved so heavy a
punishment as a fine of £30,000 and perpetual imprisonment."
(_Memorials_, iii. 287, note.)

[437] To Winwood, _Memorials_, iii. 287.

[438] _Traditional Memoirs_, p. 214.

[439] _An Answere to certaine Scandalous Papers, scattered abroad under
colour of a Catholicke Admonition._ "Qui facit vivere, docet orare."
Imprinted at London by Robert Barker, Printer to the King's most
Eccellent Majestie. Anno 1606.

This was published in January, 1605-6, on the 28th of which month Sir W.
Browne, writing from Flushing, mentions that "my lord of Salisbury hath
lately published a little booke as a kynd of answer to som secrett
threatning libelling letters cast into his chamber." (Stowe MSS., 168,
74, f. 308.)

[440] On this subject Cornwallis wrote to Salisbury (Winwood, ii. 193):
"Many reports are here spread of the Combination against your Lordship,
and that five English Romanists would resolve your death. It seems that
since they cannot be allowed _Sacrificium incruentum_, they will now
altogether put in use their sacrifices of blood. But I hope and suppose
that their hearts and their hands want much of the vigour that rests in
their wills and their pens. Your Lordship doth take especial courage in
this, that they single you out as the chief and principal watch Tower of
your Country and Commonwealth, and turn the strength of their malice to
you whom they hold the discoverer of all their unnatural and destructive
inventions against their prince and country," etc.

[441] P.R.O. _Dom. James I._ xviii. 97, February 27th, N.S., 1606. The
original, which is in Latin, has been utterly misunderstood by the
Calendarer of State Papers.

[442] Stonyhurst MSS., _Anglia_, iii. 72.

[443] Thomas Howard, cr. 1603.

[444] To the ambassadors.

[445] Father Blount's account is undoubtedly in keeping with what we
know of the Earl, and especially of his Countess, who was a sister of
Sir Thomas Knyvet, the captor of Guy Faukes. Suffolk, in 1614, became
Lord High Treasurer, but four years afterwards grave irregularities were
discovered in his office; he was accused of embezzlement and extortion,
in which work his wife was proved to have been even more active than
himself. They were sentenced to restore all money wrongfully extorted,
to a fine of £30,000, and to imprisonment during pleasure.

[446] In this letter all proper names are in cipher, as well as various
other words.

[447] _Church History_, x. 40.

[448] We have four Latin epigrams of Milton's, _In proditionem
Bombardicam_, which, though pointless, are bitterly anti-Catholic. A
longer poem, of 226 lines, _In quintum Novembris_, is still more

It is somewhat remarkable that the universal Shakespeare should make no
allusion to the Plot, beyond the doubtful reference to equivocation in
_Macbeth_ (ii. 3). He was at the time of its occurrence in the full flow
of his dramatic activity.

[449] See Appendix L, _Myths and Legends of the Powder Plot_.

[450] Brit. Mus. Print Room, Crace Collection, portf. xv. 28. This is
reproduced, as our frontispiece.

[451] There was a new moon at 11.30 p.m. on October 31st.

[452] The reasons assigned in the proclamation for this prorogation are
plainly insufficient: viz., "That the holding of it [the Parliament] so
soone is not convenient, as well for that the ordinary course of our
subjects resorting to the citie for their usuall affaires at the Terme
is not for the most part till Allhallowtide or thereabouts." Why, then,
had the meeting been fixed for so unsuitable a date?

[453] November 7th, 1605. (_Dom. James I._)

[454] Tanner MSS. lxxv. 44.

[455] _Ibid._

[456] On his arrival in England, as Osborne tells us (_Memoirs_, p.
276), King James "brought a new holiday into the Church of England,
wherein God had publick thanks given him for his majestie's deliverance
out of the hands of Earle Goury;" but the introduction was not a
success, Englishmen and Scots alike ridiculing it. Gunpowder Plot Day
was more fortunate.

[457] _Harleian Miscellany_, iv. 251.



_Frontispiece. The Powder Plot. I._

FROM the Crace Collection, British Museum, _Portf._ xv. 20. Thus
described in the catalogue of the collection:

"A small etching of the House of Lords. Guy Fawkes in the foreground.
W.E. exc. 1605."

This plate is of exceptional interest as having been executed within
five months of the discovery of the Plot, _i.e._, previously to March
25th, 1606, the first day of the year, Old Style.

Guy Faukes is represented as approaching the House of Commons (St.
Stephen's Chapel), not the House of Lords, as the catalogue says.


Obverse, or reverse, of a medal struck, by order of the Dutch senate, to
commemorate the double event of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot and
the expulsion of the Jesuits from Holland. Drawn from a copy of the
medal in pewter, by Paul Woodroffe. The design here exhibited is thus
described in Hawkins and Frank's _Medallic Illustrations_:

"The name of Jehovah, in Hebrew, radiate, within a crown of thorns."

"Legend, chronogrammatic,

    Non DorMItastI AntIstes IaCobI"

[which gives the date 1605]

On its other face the medal bears a snake gliding amid roses and lilies
[symbolizing Jesuit intrigues in England and France], with the legend
_Detectus qui latuit. S.C._ [Senatus Consulto]."

This is reproduced on the cover.

_Group of Conspirators_ (p. 3).

From a print published at Amsterdam.

Eight conspirators are represented, five being omitted, viz., Grant,
Keyes, Digby, Rokewood, and Tresham.

Bates, as a servant, wears no hat.

_The Houses of Parliament in the time of James I._ (pp. 56-7).

Restored from the best authorities, and drawn for the author by H.W.

_Ground Plan of House of Lords and adjacent Buildings_ (p. 59).

Extracted from the "Foundation plan of the Ancient Palace of
Westminster; measured, drawn and engraved by J. T. Smith" (_Antiquities
of Westminster_, p. 125)

_The House of Lords in 1807_ (p. 61).

From J.T. Smith's _Antiquities of Westminster_.

This sketch, made from the east, or river, side, was taken during the
demolition of the buildings erected against the sides of the Parliament
House. These were put up previously to the time when Hollar made his
drawing of the interior (temp. Charles II.), which shows the walls hung
with tapestry, the windows having been blocked up.

According to a writer in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ (No. 70, July,
1800), who signs himself "Architect," in a print of the time of James I.
the tapestry is not seen, and the House "appears to have preserved much
of its original work." The only print answering to this description
which I have been able to find exhibits the windows, but is of no value
for historical purposes, as it is a reproduction of one of the time of
Queen Elizabeth, the figure of the sovereign alone being changed. This
engraving is said to be "taken from a painted print in the Cottonian
Library," of which I can find no trace. [B. Mus., K. 24. 19. b.]

To the left of our illustration is seen the gable of the Prince's
Chamber. The door to the right of this opened into the cellar, and by
it, according to tradition, Faukes was to have made his exit.

In front of this is seen part of the garden attached to Percy's lodging.

_Interior of "Guy Faukes' Cellar"_ (p. 71).

Two views of the interior of the "cellar," drawn by H. W. Brewer, from
elevations in J.T. Smith's _Antiquities of Westminster_, p. 39.

The remains of a buttery-hatch, at the southern end, testify to the
ancient use of the chamber as the palace kitchen; of which the Earl of
Northampton made mention at Father Garnet's trial.

The very ancient doorway in the eastern wall, seen on the left of the
picture, was of Saxon workmanship, and, like the foundations beneath,
probably dated from the time of Edward the Confessor, who first erected
this portion of the palace, most of which had been rebuilt about the
time of Henry III. By this doorway, according to some accounts, Faukes
intended to escape after firing the train, though others assign this
distinction to one near the other end.

These two illustrations were originally prepared for the _Daily Graphic_
of November 5th, 1894, and it is by the courtesy of the proprietors of
that journal that they are here reproduced.

_Vault under the East End of the Painted Chamber_ (p. 73).

From Brayley and Britton's _Palace of Westminster_, p. 247.

This has been constantly depicted and described as "Guy Faukes' Cellar."

_Arches from Guy Faukes' Cellar_ (p. 75).

Drawn for the author by H. W. Brewer.

Sir John Soane, who in 1823 took down the old House of Lords, removed
the arches from the "cellar" beneath it, to his own house in Lincoln's
Inn Fields, now the Soane Museum, where they are still to be seen in a
small court adjoining the building. They do not, however, appear to have
been set up precisely in their original form, being dwarfed by the
omission of some stones, presumably that they might occupy less space.
In our illustration they are represented exactly as they now stand,
with the modern building behind them. Some incongruous relics of other
stonework which have been introduced amongst them have, however, been

The architecture of these arches, and of the adjacent Prince's Chamber,
assigns them to the best period of thirteenth century Gothic.

_Cell at S.E. corner of Painted Chamber_ (p. 83).

Often styled "Guy Faukes' Cell."

From Brayley and Britton, _op. cit._, p. 360.

There appears to be no reason for associating this with Faukes.

_The Powder Plot. II._ (p. 90).

"Invented by Samuel Ward, Preacher, of Ipswich. Imprinted at Amsterdam,
1621." [British Museum, _Political and Personal Satires_, i. 41.]

This is the portion to the right of a composition representing on the
left the Spanish Armada, and in the centre a council table at which are
gathered the Devil, the Pope, the King of Spain, the General of the
Jesuits, and others. An eye above is fixed on the cellar. Faukes in this
case is going to blow up the Painted Chamber.

_Interior of the old House of Lords (Scene on occasion of the King's
Speech, 1755)_ (p. 97).

This plate represents the House in the reign of George II. In the
century and a half since the time of the Powder Plot it is probable that
the windows in the side walls had been blocked up, and the tapestry
hung. The latter represented the defeat of the Armada.

[From Maitland's _London_ (1756), ii. 1340.]

_Lord Monteagle and the Letter_ (p. 115).

From _Mischeefes Mystery_.

King James enthroned, with crown and sceptre, upon a daïs, at the foot
of which stands the Earl of Salisbury. An eagle bears a letter in its
beak, to receive which the king and his minister extend their left

The English poem, by John Vicars, embellished with this woodcut, was
published in 1617, being a much expanded version of one in Latin
hexameters, entitled _Pietas Pontificia_, by Francis Herring, which
appeared in 1606.

_Arrest of Guy Faukes_ (p. 125).

From _Mischeefes Mystery_.

Guy Faukes booted and spurred, and with his lantern, prepares to open a
door at the extremity of the Painted Chamber. Sir Thomas Knyvet with his
retinue approaches unseen. The stars and the beams from the lantern show
that it is the middle of the night.

_Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot_ (p. 136).

From a print in the Guildhall Library.

Catesby, Faukes, and Garnet (the latter in what is apparently meant for
the Jesuit habit) stand in the middle of the street conspiring
secretly. Through the open door of the "cellar" the powder barrels are

This illustration (without the coins) stands at the head of Book XVIII.
of M. Rapin de Thoyras' _History of England_, translated by N. Tindal.

"_Guy Faukes' Lantern_" (p. 139).

Drawn by H.W. Brewer.

This object, the authenticity of which is not unquestionable, is
exhibited in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. It bears the inscription,
"Laterna illa ipsa qua usus est, et cum qua deprehensus Guido Faux in
crypta subterranea ubi domo Parliamenti difflandæ operam dabat. Ex dono
Robti Heywood nuper Academiae Procuratoris, Ap. 4^o, 1641."

It will be remembered that the honour of having arrested Faukes has been
claimed for one of the name of Heywood.

The history of the famous lantern has not escaped the variations which
we are accustomed to meet with on other points. Faukes is generally said
to have been found with it in his hands, and it has consequently become
an inseparable adjunct in pictures of him. On the other hand, we are
told, "In a corner, behind the door, was a dark lantern containing a
light" (Brayley and Britton, _Palace of Westminster_, p. 377).

_Thomas Percy_ (p. 149).

From Grainger.

Around the portrait are four small engravings representing:

1. The arrest of Guy Faukes, who is here called "Thomas Ichrup."

2. The presentation of Thomas Ichrup to the King of Jerusalem (_i.e._,
the British Solomon).

3. The assault and bombardment of the "citadel" to which Percy has fled.

4. Percy killed by an arrow.

_Thomas Winter's Confession_ (p. 168).

A portion of the copy of Winter's confession, in the handwriting of
Levinus Munck, Lord Salisbury's private secretary, and dated November
23rd. In the margin is a note in the handwriting of King James,
objecting to a certain "uncleare phrase," which has been altered in
accordance with the royal wish. In the printed version it appears in the
amended form.

_Signatures exemplifying the Effects of Torture_ (p. 173).

Three signatures of Faukes (November 9th, 1605), and three of Father
Edward Oldcorne (March 6th, 1605-6), at different stages of the same

_Guy Faukes' Confession of November 9th, 1605_ (p. 199).

A portion of this confession, in which Faukes speaks of the oath taken
by the conspirators and of their reception of the sacrament at the hands
of Father John Gerard, adding, however, that "Gerard was not acquainted
with their purpose." The last clause has been marked for omission by Sir
Edward Coke who has written in the margin _hucusq._ ("thus far").

The letter B in the margin is also inserted by Coke, who habitually
indicated by such letters which portions of the depositions were to be
read in court and which omitted, all being always suppressed which told
in any way in favour of the accused.

The document is written by a clerk, and signed by Faukes at the foot of
each page.

_The Powder Plot. III._ (p. 215).

This is taken from a large plate [British Museum, _Political and
Personal Satires_, i. 67], of which only the lower portion is here
reproduced. At the top is the inscription:

THE POWDER TREASON, Propounded by Sathan, Approved by Anti-Christ,
Enterprised by Papists, Practized by Traitors, Reveled by an Eagle,
Expounded by an Oracle.--Founded in Hell, Confounded in Heaven.

Beneath are many emblematical devices.

In the portion here exhibited, King James is seen on his throne with
Lords and Commons before him. Under the floor is a diminutive figure of
Faukes with an ample store of barrels. At the bottom, in the left hand
corner, some of the conspirators receive the sacrament from Father
Gerard: on the right they are executed. On a lunette are the thirteen
conspirators, with the arch-traitor Garnet in the centre, the band being
described as "The Pope's Saltpeeter Saints." Within the lunette are the
Jesuits in Hell.

_The Powder Plot. IV._ (p. 227).

This is the portion on the left of a composite picture [British Museum,
_Political and Personal Satires_, 63], on the right being represented
the catastrophe known as the "Blackfriars Downfall." On Sunday, October
26th, 1623, many Catholics having assembled in an upper room of the
French ambassador's house, in Blackfriars, to hear a sermon from the
Jesuit, Father Drury, the floor collapsed, and many, including the
preacher, were killed. As October 26th, O.S., corresponded to November
5th, N.S., it was ingeniously discovered that the accident was meant to
signalize Gunpowder Plot day, though this fell on November 5th, O.S., or
November 15th, N.S.

In our illustration the Parliament House is represented by a nondescript
edifice, the wall of which is partially removed, showing King James and
some of the Peers. An oven-like vault beneath represents the "cellar,"
well stored with barrels, which Faukes is preparing to light with a
torch fanned by a crowned fiend with a pair of bellows. A company of
halberdiers approaches under the guidance of an angel. In the background
is a royal funeral procession.

A Latin inscription is attached which runs thus:

    "Anno 1623, Quinto Novembris, eo scripto die quo Angliæ
    Parliamentum, a^o 1605, proditione et insidiis Jesuitarum, pulvere
    nitreo inflammari et in æthera spargi debuit, Jesuitarum conventus
    Londini, ... ad missam et conciones audiendas congregatus, fatali
    providentia, ædium ruina præcipitatus et dissipatus est, oppressis
    centum et plus totidem vulneratis.

    Loiolides sanctos efflare volebat ad astra;
      Astra repercutiunt fulmine Loiolidem.
    Loiolides, sine te penetrabit astra fidelis:
      Tu fato ad Stygias præcipitaris aquas."

_The Powder Plot. V._ (p. 229).

This is an edition of Samuel Ward's print described above, improved and
embellished by a "Transmariner" in 1689. [British Museum, _Political and
Personal Satires_, i. 43.]

The tent in which the council table stands is ornamented at the four
corners with figures of a wolf, a parrot, an owl, and a dragon: a
cockatrice is on the table; on the top lie a gun, a sword, and a brace
of pistols. A demon, bearing behind him a Papal Bull, accompanies
Faukes, beneath whose lantern, as a play on his name, is written _Fax_.
At the door of the cellar are scorpions and a serpent. On the top of the
barrels within are seen the "yron barres," placed there to make the
breach the greater.

APPENDIX B. (p. 33).

_Sir Everard Digby's letter to Salisbury._

IT seems to have been always assumed that this celebrated letter, which
is undated, was written after the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, and the
consequent arrest of Sir Everard, and doubtless to some extent internal
evidence supports this view, as the writer speaks of himself as
deserving punishment, and of "our offence." It is, moreover, clear that
the letter, which is undated, cannot have been written before May 4th,
1605, the date of Cecil's earldom. On the other hand, the whole tone of
the document appears utterly inconsistent with the supposition that it
was written by one branded with the stigma of such a crime as the
Powder Plot. Some of the expressions used, especially in the opening
sentence, appear, likewise, incompatible with such a supposition, and
the letter bears the usual form of address for those sent in ordinary
course of post, "To the Right Hon. the Earl of Salisburie give these";
it has moreover been sealed with a crest or coat-of-arms; all of which
is quite unlike a document prepared by a prisoner for those who had him
under lock and key. It is noteworthy, too, that at the trial, according
to the testimony of the official account itself, on the very subject of
the treatment of Catholics, Salisbury acknowledged "that Sir E. Digby
was his ally."

It seems probable, therefore, that the letter was written before Digby
had been entangled by Catesby in the conspiracy (_i.e._, between May and
September, 1605). If so, what was the "offence" of which he speaks? The
answer to this question would throw an interesting light on this
perplexed history. The following is Sir Everard's letter:

"Right Honourable, I have better reflected on your late speeches than at
the present I could do, both for the small stay which I made, and for my
indisposition that day, not being very well, and though perhaps your
Lordship may judge me peremptory in meddling, and idle in propounding,
yet the desire I have to establish the King in safety will not suffer me
to be silent.

"One part of your Lordship's speech (as I remember) was that the King
could not get so much from the Pope (even then when his Majesty had done
nothing against Catholics) as a promise that he would not excommunicate
him, so long as that mild course was continued, wherefore it gave
occasion to suspect, that if Catholics were suffered to increase, the
Pope might afterwards proceed to excommunication, if the King would not
change his religion. But to take away that doubt, I do assure myself
that his Holiness may be drawn to manifest so contrary a disposition of
excommunicating the King, that he will proceed with the same course
against all such as shall go about to disturb the King's quiet and happy
reign; and the willingness of Catholics, especially of priests and
Jesuits, is such as I dare undertake to procure any priest in England
(though it were the Superior of the Jesuits) to go himself to Rome to
negotiate this business, and that both he and all other religious men
(till the Pope's pleasure be known) shall take any spiritual course to
stop the effect that may proceed from any discontented or despairing

"And I doubt not but his return would bring both assurance that such
course should not be taken with the King, and that it should be
performed against any that should seek to disturb him for religion. If
this were done, there could then be no cause to fear any Catholic, and
this may be done only with those proceedings (which as I understood your
lordship) should be used. If your Lordship apprehend it to be worth the
doing, I shall be glad to be the instrument, for no hope to put off from
myself any punishment, but only that I wish safety to the King and ease
to Catholics. If your Lordship and the State think it fit to deal
severely with Catholics, within brief there will be massacres,
rebellions, and desperate attempts against the King and State. For it is
a general received reason amongst Catholics, that there is not that
expecting and suffering course now to be run that was in the Queen's
time, who was the last of her line, and last in expectance to run
violent courses against Catholics; for then it was hoped that the King
that now is would have been at least free from persecuting, as his
promise was before his coming into this realm, and as divers his
promises have been since his coming, saying that he would take no soul
money nor blood. Also, as it appeared, was the whole body of the
Council's pleasure, when they sent for divers of the better sort of
Catholics (as Sir Thos. Tressam and others) and told them it was the
King's pleasure to forgive the payment of Catholics, so long as they
should carry themselves dutifully and well. All these promises every man
sees broken, and to thrust them further in despair, most Catholics take
note of a vehement book written by Mr. Attorney, whose drift (as I have
heard) is to prove that the only being a Catholic is to be a traitor,
which book coming forth, after the breach of so many promises, and
before the ending of such a violent parliament, can work no less effect
in men's minds than a belief that every Catholic will be brought within
that compass before the King and State have done with them. And I know,
as the priest himself told me, that if he had not hindered there had
somewhat been attempted, before our offence, to give ease to Catholics.
But being so safely prevented, and so necessary to avoid, I doubt not
but your Lordship and the rest of the Lords will think of a more mild
and undoubted safe course, in which I will undertake the performance of
what I have promised and as much as can be expected, and when I have
done, I shall be as willing to die as I am ready to offer my service,
and expect not nor desire favour for it, either before the doing it, nor
in the doing it, nor after it is done, but refer myself to the resolved
course for me. So, leaving to trouble your Lordship any further, I
humbly take my leave. Your Lordship's poor bedesman, EV. DIGBY."

_Addressed_ "To the Right Honourable the Earl of Salisburie give these."

_Sealed._ [P.R.O. _Dom. James I._ xvii. 10.]

APPENDIX C. (p. 34).

_The Question of Succession._

FATHER PARSONS' well-known book on this subject, written under the
pseudonym of Doleman, was denounced by Sir Edward Coke as containing
innumerable treasons and falsehoods. In fact, as may be seen in the work
itself, it is an exhaustive and careful statement of the descent of each
of the possible claimants, and of other considerations which must enter
into the settlement. Sir Francis Inglefield wrote that it was necessary
to take some step of this kind, to set men thinking on so important a
question which would soon have to be decided, for that the anti-Catholic
party had made it treason to discuss it during the queen's life, with
intent to foist a successor of their own selection on the nation, when
the moment should arrive, trusting to the ignorance universally
prevalent as to the rights of the matter; but that such lack of
information could not help the people to a sound decision. [Stonyhurst
MSS., _Anglia_, iii. 32.]

The Spanish sympathies of Parsons and his party were afterwards made
much of as evidence of their traitorous disposition. On this subject it
must be noted (1) the Infanta of Spain was amongst those whose claim was
urged on genealogical grounds; (2) the project was to marry her to an
English nobleman. As Parsons tells us, when she married and was endowed
with another estate, English Catholics ceased to think of her. [_Ibid._
ii. 444.] (3) Father Garnet notes that, "since the old king of Spain
died [1598], there hath been no pretence ... for the Infanta, or the
King [of Spain], or any of that family, but for any that should maintain
Catholic religion, and principally for His Majesty" [James I.]. [_Ibid._
iii. n. 41.]

A remark of Parsons' on this point, which at the time was considered
almost blasphemous, will seem now almost a truism, viz., that the title
of particular succession in kingdoms is founded only upon the positive
laws of several countries, since neither kingdoms nor monarchies are of
the essence of human society, and therefore every nation has a right to
establish its own kings in what manner it likes, and upon what
conditions. Wherefore, as each of the other great parties in England
(whom he designates as Protestants and Puritans) will look chiefly to
its own political interests, and exact from the monarch of its choice
pledges to secure them, it behoves Catholics, being so large a part of
the nation, to take their proper share in the settlement, and therefore
to study betimes the arguments on which the claims of the competitors
are severally based.

APPENDIX D. (p. 36).

_The Spanish Treason._

THE history of the alleged treasonable negotiations with Spain,
conducted by various persons whose names were afterwards connected with
the Gunpowder Plot, appears open to the gravest doubt and suspicion. It
would be out of place to discuss the question here, but two articles on
the subject, by the present writer, will be found in the _Month_ for May
and June, 1896.

APPENDIX E. (p. 60).

_Site of Percy's lodging_ [_see_ View, p. 56, and Plan, p. 59.]

THAT the lodging hired by Percy stood near the south-east corner of the
old House of Lords (_i.e._ nearer to the river than that building, and
adjacent to, if not adjoining, the Prince's Chamber) is shown by the
following arguments.

1. John Shepherd, servant to Whynniard, gave evidence as to having on a
certain occasion seen from the river "a boat lye cloase to the pale of
Sir Thomas Parreys garden, and men going to and from the water through
the back door that leadeth into Mr. Percy his lodging." [_Gunpowder Plot
Book_, 40, part 2.]

2. Faukes, in his examination of November 5th, 1605, speaks of "the
windowe in his chamber neere the parliament house towards the water

3. It is said that when digging their mine the conspirators were
troubled by the influx of water from the river, which would be
impossible if they were working at the opposite side of the Parliament

[It has always been understood that Percy's house stood at the south end
of the House of Lords, but Smith (_Antiquities of Westminster_, p. 39)
places it to the south-west instead of the south-east, saying that it
stood on the site of what was afterwards the Ordnance Office.]

APPENDIX F. (p. 64).

_Enrolment of Conspirators._

The evidence on this point is most contradictory.

1. The Indictment, on the trial of the conspirators, mentions the
following dates.

_May 20th, 1604._ [Besides Garnet, Greenway, Gerard, "and other
Jesuits,"] there met together T. Winter, Faukes, Keyes, Bates, Catesby,
Percy, the two Wrights, and Tresham, by whom the Plot was approved and

_March 31st, 1605_, R. Winter, Grant, and Rokewood were enlisted.

[No mention is made of Digby, who was separately arraigned, nor in his
arraignment is any date specified.]

2. According to Faukes' confession of November 17th, 1605, Percy,
Catesby, T. Winter, J. Wright, and himself were the first associates.
Soon afterwards C. Wright was added. After Christmas, Keyes was
initiated and received the oath. At a later period, Digby, Rokewood,
Tresham, Grant, and R. Winter were brought in. Bates is not mentioned.

[In this document the names of Keyes and R. Winter have been
interchanged, in Cecil's writing, and thus it was printed: the latter
being made to appear as an earlier confederate.]

3. According to T. Winter's declaration of November 23rd, 1605, Catesby,
J. Wright, and himself were the first associates, Percy and Faukes being
presently added. Keyes was enlisted before Michaelmas, C. Wright after
Christmas, Digby at a later period, and Tresham "last of all." No others
are mentioned.

4. Keyes--November 30th, 1605--says that he was inducted a little before
Midsummer, 1604.

5. R. Winter and Grant (January 17th, 1605-6) fix January, 1604-5, for
their introduction to the conspiracy, and Bates (December 4th, 1605)
gives the preceding December for his. Neither date agrees with that of
the indictment in support of which these confessions were cited.

6. There is, of course, no evidence of any kind to show that Father
Garnet and the "other Jesuits" ever had any conference with the
conspirators, nor was such a charge urged on his trial.

7. Sir Everard Digby's case is exceptionally puzzling. All the evidence
represents him as having been initiated late in September, or early in
October, 1605. Among the Hatfield MSS., however, there is a letter
addressed to Sir Everard, by one G. D., and dated June 11th, 1605,
which treats ostensibly of a hunt for "the otter that infesteth your
brooks," to be undertaken when the hay has been cut, but has been
endorsed by Cecil himself, "Letter written to Sir Everard Digby--_Powder
Treason_;" the minister thus attributing to him a knowledge of the Plot,
more than three months before it was ever alleged that he heard of it.

APPENDIX G. (p. 94).

_Henry Wright the Informer._

1. _Letter to Sir T. Challoner, April, 1604._ [_Gunpowder Plot Book_, n.

Good Sir Thomas, I am as eager for setting of the lodgings as you can
be, and in truth whereas we desired but twenty, the discoverer had set
and (if we accept it) can set above three score, but I told him that the
State would take it for good service if he set twenty of the most
principal Jesuits and seminary priests, and therewithal I gave him
thirteen or fourteen names picked out of his own notes, among the which
five of them were sworn to the secresy. He saith absolutely that by
God's grace he will do it ere long, but he stayeth some few days
purposely for the coming to town of Tesmond [Greenway] and Kempe, two
principals; their lodgings are prepared, and they will be here, as he
saith for certain, within these two days. For the treason, Davies
neither hath nor will unfold himself for the discovery of it till he
hath his pardon for it under seal, as I told you, which is now in great
forwardness, and ready to be sealed so that you shall know all.... Your
worship's most devoted,


[A pardon to Joseph Davies for all treasons and other offences appears
on the Pardon Roll, April 25th, 1605, thus supplying the approximate
date of the above letter.]

2. _Application to the King._ [_Gunpowder Plot Book_, n. 237.]

"If it may please your Majesty, can you remember that the Lord Chief
Justice Popham and Sir Thomas Challoner, Kt., had a hand in the
discovery of the practices of the Jesuits in the powder, and did from
time reveal the same to your Majesty, for two years' space almost before
the said treason burst forth by an obscure letter to the Lord
Mounteagle, which your Majesty, like an angel of God, interpreted,
touching the blow, then intended to have been given by powder. The man
that informed Sir Thomas Challoner and the Lord Popham of the said
Jesuitical practices, their meetings and traitorous designs in that
matter, whereof from time to time they informed your Majesty, was one
Wright, who hath your Majesty's hand for his so doing, and never
received any reward for his pains and charges laid out concerning the
same. This Wright, if occasion serve, can do more service."

[_Addressed_, "Mr. Secretary Conway."

_Headed_, "Touching Wright and his services performed in the damnable
plot of the Powder treason."]

APPENDIX H. (p. 119).

_Lord Monteagle to King James_, (British Museum MSS. Add. 19402, f.

"MOST gracious Soveraine.--Your maiestyes tender and fatherly love over
me, In admonishinge me heartofore, to seake resolution In matter of
religion, geves me both occasion, and Incouragement, as humbly to thanke
your maiestye for this care of my soules good, so to crave leave of
gevinge into your maiestyes hand this accompt, that your wisdome, seinge
the course and end of my proceadinges, might rest assured that by the
healp of god, I will [live and] dye, In that religion which I have nowe
resolved to profes.

"It may please your maiestye therfore to knowe, that as I was breed upp
In the Romish religion and walked in that, because I knew no better, so
have I not sodainely or lightly made the chaunge, which nowe I desire to
be seane In, for I speake, Sir, as before him that shall Judg my soule,
I have by praier, for god his gidance, and with voues to him, to walk in
that light he should shew me, and by longe carefull and diligent
readinge, and conference with lerned men, on both sides, and impartiall
examination of ther profes and argumentes, come to discerne the
Ignorance I was formerly wrapped In, as I nowe wonder that ether my
self, or any other of common understandinge, showld bee so blynded, as
to Imbrace that gods trewth, [_sic_] which I nowe perseyue to be
grounded uppon so weake foundations. And as I never could digest all
poyntes therin, wherof not few seamed to bee made for gaine and
ambition, of the papacye, so nowe I fynde that the hole frame and bodye
of that religion (wherin they oppose us) difereth from the platforme,
which god him self hath recorded In the holy scriptures, and hath In
length of tyme, by the Ignorance and deceiptfulness of men, bene peaced
together, and is now maintayned by factious obstinacye, and certain
coulerable pretences, such as the wittes and learninge of men, are able
to cast uppon any humaine errors, which they list to uphowld. Nether
have I left any thinge I doubted of untried or unresolued, becawse I did
Intend and desire to so take up the trewth of god, once discouered to
me, as neuer to suffer yt to bee questioned any more In my owne
consienc. And In all this, Sir, I protest to your maiestye, before
almightye god, I have simply and only propounded to my self the trew
seruise of god, and saluation of my owne soule, Not gaine, not honor, no
not that which I doe most highly valew, your maiestyes fauour, or better
opinion of me. Nether on the other side am I affraide of those censures
of men whether of the partye I have abandoned, or of others which I
shall Incur by this alteration, howldinge yt contentment Innough to my
self, That god hath in mercye enlightened my mynde to see his sacred
trewth, with desire to serue [the paper here is mutilated].... And rest,
your maie[styes] most loyall and obedient servant W. Mownteagle."

_Addressed_, "To the Kinge his most excellent Maiestye."

From the absence of any allusion to the Powder Plot and its "discovery,"
it appears certain that this letter must have been written previously to

On August 1st, 1609, Sir Wm. Waad wrote to Salisbury that the disorders
of Lord Monteagle's house were an offence to the country. At this period
he appears to have been suspected of concealing Catholic students from
St. Omers. [_Calendar of State Papers._]

APPENDIX I. (p. 140).

_Epitaph in St. Anne's, Aldersgate._ [Maitland, London (1756), p. 1065.]

"_Peter Heiwood_, younger son of _Peter Heiwood_, one of the Counsellors
of _Jamaica_, ... Great Grandson to _Peter Heiwood_ of _Heywood_ in the
County Palestine of _Lancaster_; who apprehended _Guy Faux_ with his
dark Lanthorn; and for his zealous prosecution of Papists, as Justice of
Peace, was stabbed in _Westminster-Hall_ by _John James_, a _Dominican_
Friar, An. Dom. 1640. Obiit _Novem. 2. 1701_.

    Reader, if not a Papist bred
    Upon such Ashes gently tread."

It is to be presumed that the person who died in 1701 is not the same
who was stabbed in 1640, or who discovered Guy Faukes in 1605.

The Dominican records contain no trace of any member of the Order named
John James, nor does so remarkable an event as the stabbing of a Justice
of Peace in Westminster Hall appear to be chronicled elsewhere.

Peter Heywood, J.P. for Westminster, was active as a magistrate as late
as December 15th, 1641. [_Calendar of State Papers._]

APPENDIX K. (p. 173).

_The Use of Torture._

THERE can be no doubt that torture was freely employed to extract
evidence from the conspirators and others who fell into the hands of the

The Earl of Salisbury, in his letter to Favat, of December 4th, 1605,
clearly intimates that this was the case, when he complains "most of the
prisoners have wilfully forsworn that the priests knew anything in
particular, and obstinately refuse to be accusers of them, _yea, what
torture soever they be put to_."

About the middle of November, Lord Dunfermline wrote to Salisbury [_Dom.
James I._ xvi. 81] recommending that the prisoners should be confined
apart and in darkness, that they should be examined by torchlight, and
that the tortures should be slow and at intervals, as being thus most

There is every reason to believe that the Jesuit lay-brother, Nicholas
Owen, _alias_ Littlejohn, actually died upon the rack. [_Vide_ Father
Gerard's _Narrative of the Gunpowder Plot_, p. 189.]

Finally we have the king's instructions as to Faukes [_Gunpowder Plot
Book_, No. 17]. "The gentler tortours are to be first usid unto him, _et
sic per gradus ad ima tenditur_,[458] and so God speede your goode
worke."[459] Guy's signature of November 9th is sufficient evidence that
it was none of the "gentler tortours" which he had endured.

In the violently Protestant account of the execution of the
traitors,[460] we read: "Last of all came the great Devil of all Faukes,
who should have put fire to the powder. His body being weak with torture
and sickness, he was scarce able to go up the ladder, but with much ado,
by the help of the hangman, went high enough to brake his neck with the

APPENDIX L. (p. 227).

_Myths and Legends of the Powder Plot._

AROUND the Gunpowder Plot has gathered a mass of fabulous embellishment
too curious to be passed over in silence. This has chiefly attached
itself to Guy Faukes, who, on account of the desperate part allotted to
him has impressed the public mind far more than any of his associates,
and has come to be erroneously regarded as the moving spirit of the

One of the best authenticated facts regarding him is that when
apprehended he was booted and spurred for a journey, though it is
usually said that he was to have travelled by water.

There is, however, a strange story, told with much circumstantiality,
which gives an elaborate but incomprehensible account of a tragic
underplot in connection with him. This is related at considerable length
in a Latin hexameter poem, _Venatio Catholica_, published in 1609, in
the _History of the Popish Sham Plots_, and elsewhere. According to this
tangled tale the other conspirators wished both to get rid of Faukes,
when he had served their purpose, and to throw the suspicion of their
deed upon their enemies, the Puritans. To this end they devised a
notable scheme. A certain Puritan, named Pickering, a courtier, but a
godly man, foremost amongst his party, had a fine horse ("Bucephalum
egregium"). This, Robert Keyes, his brother-in-law, purchased or hired,
and placed at the service of Faukes for his escape. The steed was to
await him at a certain spot, but in a wood hard by assassins were to
lurk, who, when Guy appeared, should murder him, and having secured the
money with which he was furnished, should leave his mangled corpse
beside the Bucephalus, known as Mr. Pickering's. Thus Faukes would be
able to tell no tales, and--though it does not appear why--suspicion
would be sure to fall on the Puritan, and he would be proclaimed as the
author of the recent catastrophe.

    "Hoc astu se posse rati convertere in hostes
    Flagitii infamiam, causamque capessere vulgo
    Qua Puritanos invisos reddere possent,
    Ut tantæ authores, tam immanis proditionis.
    Cognito equo, et facta (pro more) indagine cædis,
    Aulicus hic sceleris tanquam fabricator atrocis
    Proclamandus erat, Falso (ne vera referre
    Et socios sceleris funesti prodere possit)

Many curious circumstances have likewise been imported into the history,
and many places connected with it which appear to have no claim whatever
to such a distinction.

Thus we hear (_England's Warning Peece_) that the Jesuit Cresswell came
over from Spain for the occasion "to bear his part with the rest of his
society in a victorial song of thanksgiving." Also that on November 5th,
a large body of confederates assembled at Hampstead to see the House of
Parliament go up in the air.

In the _Gentleman's Magazine_, February, 1783, is a remarkable
description of a summer house, in a garden at Newton Hall, near
Kettering, Northamptonshire, in which the plotters used to meet and
conspire, the place then belonging to the Treshams; "and for greater
security, they placed a conspirator at each window, Guy Faukes, the arch
villain, standing in the doorway, to prevent anybody overhearing them."

According to a wide-spread belief Guy Faukes was a Spaniard.[461] He has
also been called a Londoner, and his name being altered to Vaux, has
been said to have a family connection with Vauxhall. He was in fact a
Yorkshireman of good family, though belonging to a younger branch of no
great estate. His father, Edward Faukes, was a notary at York, where he
held the office of registrar and advocate of the cathedral church. Guy
himself was an educated man, more than commonly well read. He is always
described in the process as "Guido Faukes, Gentleman."

Another most extraordinary example of an obvious myth, which was
nevertheless treated as sober history, is furnished by the absurd
statement that the astute and wily Jesuits not only contrived the Plot,
but published its details to the world long before its attempted
execution, in order to vindicate to themselves the credit of so glorious
a design. Thus Bishop Kennet, in a fifth of November sermon, preached at
St. Paul's before the Lord Mayor, in 1715, tells us:[462]

"It was a general surmise at least among the whole Order of Jesuits in
foreign parts: or else one of them could hardly have stated the case so
exactly some four or five years before it broke out. Father Del-Rio, in
a treatise printed An. 1600, put the case, as if he had already looked
into the Mine and Cellars, and had surveyed the barrels of powder in
them, and had heard the whole confessions of Faux and Catesby."

This "general surmise" does not appear to have been confined to the
Jesuits themselves. Another ingenious writer, nearly a century
earlier,[463] tells a wonderful story concerning the sermon of a
Dominican, preached in the same year, 1600, wherein it was related how
there was a special hell, beneath the other, for Jesuits, so thick and
fast did they arrive as to need extra accommodation. The preacher avowed
that he had, in his vision of the place, given warning to the demon in
charge of it, "to search them with speed, for fear that they had
conveyed hither some gunpowder with them, for they are very skilfull in
Mine-workes, and in blowing up of whole States and Parliament-houses,
and if they can blow you all up, then the Spanyards will come and take
your kingdom from you."

Another notable specimen of the way in which reason and probability were
cast to the winds is afforded by two letters written from Naples in
1610, one to King James and the other to Salisbury, by Sir Edwin
Rich,[464] who announced that Father Greenway--who of all the Jesuits
was said to be most clearly convicted as a traitor--intended to send to
the king a present of an embroidered satin doublet and hose, which,
being craftily poisoned, would be death to him if he put them on.


[458] "And so by degrees to the uttermost."

[459] These instructions furnish an interesting specimen of the king's
broad Scotch, _e.g._, "Quhat Gentlewomans Letter it was y^t was founde
upon him, and quhairfor doth she give him an other Name in it y^n he
giues to himself. If he was ever a papiste; and if so, quho brocht him
up in it. If otherwayes, hou was he convertid, quhair, quhan, and by

The following passage is very characteristic of the writer:

"Nou last, ye remember of the crewellie villanouse pasquille y^t rayled
upon me for y^e name of Brittanie. If I remember richt it spake
something of harvest and prophecyed my destructi[=o] about y^t tyme. Ye
may think of y^s, for it is lyke to be by y^e Laboure of such a
desperate fellow as y^s is."

[460] _The Arraignment and execution of the late traitors_, etc., 1606.

[461] See, for instance, _London and the Kingdom_ (mainly from the
Guildhall Archives), by Reginald R. Sharpe, ii. 13.

[462] P. 9.

[463] Lewis Owen, _Unmasking of all popish Monks_, etc. (1628), p. 49.

[464] _Dom. James I._ lvii. 92-93, October 5th.


_Sir William Waad's Memorial Inscriptions._

IN a room of the Queen's House in the Tower, in which the conspirators
are supposed to have been examined by the Lords of the Council, Sir
William Waad has left a series of inscriptions as memorials of the
events in which he played so large a part. Of these the most noteworthy
are the following:


    Jacobus Magnus, Magnæ Britanniæ
    rex, pietate, justitia, prudentia, doctrina, fortitudine,
    clementia, ceterisq. virtutibus regiis clariss'; Christianæ
    fidei, salutis publicæ, pacis universalis propugnator, fautor
    auctor acerrimus, augustiss', auspicatiss'.
    Anna Regina Frederici 2. Danorum Regis invictiss' filia sereniss^a,
    Henricus princeps, naturæ ornamentis, doctrinæ præsidiis, gratiæ
    Muneribus, instructiss', nobis et natus et a deo datus,
    Carolus dux Eboracensis divina ad omnem virtutem indole,[465]
    Elizabetha utriusq. soror Germana, utroque parente dignissima
    Hos velut pupillam oculi tenellam
    providus muni, procul impiorum
    impetu alarum tuarum intrepidos
    conde sub umbra.

[This is evidently intended for a Sapphic stanza, but the last two words
of v. 3 have been transposed, destroying the metre.]


    Robertus Cecil, Comes Sarisburiensis, summus et regis
    Secretarius, et Angliæ thesaurarius, clariss' patris
    et de repub. meritissimi filius, in paterna munera
    successor longe dignissimus;
    Henricus, comes Northamptoniæ, quinq. portuum præfectus et
    privati sigilli custos, disertorum litteratissimus, litteratorum
    Carolus comes Nottingamiæ, magnus Angliæ admirallus
    Thomas Suffolciæ comes, regis camerarius splendidissimus,
    tres viri nobilissimi ex antiqua Howardorum familia, ducumq.
    Norfolciæ prosapia;
    Edwardus Somersetus, comes Wigorniæ, equis regiis præfectus
    Carolus Blunt, comes Devoniæ, Hyberniæ prorex et pacificator,
    Joannes Areskinus,[466] illustris Marriæ comes, præcipuarum in
    Scotia arcium præfectus;
    Georgius Humius, Dunbari comes, Scotiæ thesaurarius
    omnes illustriss' ordinis garteri milites;
    Joannes Popham, miles, justiciarius Angliæ capitalis,
    et justitiæ consultissimus:

    Hi omnes illustrissimi viri, quorum nomina ad sempiternam eorum
    memoriam posteritati consecrandam proxime supra ad lineam posita
    sunt, ut regi a consiliis, ita ab eo delegati quæsitores, reis
    singulis incredibili diligentia ac cura sæpius appellatis, nec
    minore solertia et dexteritate pertentatis eorum animis, eos suis
    ipsorum inter se collatis responsionibus convictos, ad voluntariam
    confessionem adegerunt: et latentem nefarie conjurationis seriem,
    remq. omnem ut hactenus gesta et porro per eos gerenda esset, summa
    fide erutam, æterna cum laude sua, in lucem produxerunt, adeo ut
    divina singulari providentia effectum sit, ut tam præsens, tamq.
    f[oe]da tempestas, a regia majestate, liberisq. regiis, et omni
    regno depulsa, in ipsos autores eorumq. socios redundarit.


Conjuratorum Nomina, ad perpetuam ipsorum infamiam et tantæ diritatis
detestationem sempiternam.

                                 Thomas Winter     Thomas Percy
                                 Robert Winter     Robert Catesby
    _Monachi_  { Henry Garnet    John Winter       John Wright
    _salutare_ { John Gerrard    Guy Fawkes        Christopher Wright
    _Jesu_     { Oswald Tesmond  Thomas Bates      Francis Tresham
    _nom[=e]_  { Ham[=o]         Everard Digby, K. Thomas Abbington
    _ementiti_ { Baldw[=i]       Am' Rookewood     Edmond Baineham, K.
                                 John Graunt       William Stanley, K.
                                 Robert Keyes      Hughe Owen.
                                 Henry Morg[=a]


Besides the above there is a prolix description of the Plot, devised
against the best of sovereigns, "a Jesuitis Romanensibus, perfidiæ
Catholicæ et impietatis viperinæ autoribus et assertoribus, aliisq.
ejusdem amentiæ scelerisq. patratoribus et sociis susceptæ, et in ipso
pestis derepente inferendæ articulo (salutis anno 1605, mensis Novembris
die quinto), tam præter spem quam supra fidem mirifice et divinitus

There is, moreover, a sentence in Hebrew, with Waad's cipher beneath,
and a number of what seem to be meant for verses. The following lines
are evidently the Lieutenant's description of his own office:

    "Custodis Custos sum, Carcer Carceris, arcis
      Arx, atque Argu' Argus; sum speculæ specula;
    Sum vinclum in vinclis; compes cum compede, clav[=u]
      Firmo hærens, teneo tentus, habens habeor.
    Dum regi regnoq. salus stet firma quieta,
      Splendida sim Compes Compedis usque licet."

This is considerably more metrical and intelligible than some of the

In 1613 Waad was dismissed from his post, one of the charges against him
being that he had embezzled the jewels of Arabella Stuart.[467]

In Theobald's _Memoirs of Sir Walter Raleigh_ (p. 16), Waad is described
as "the Lieutenant of the Tower, and Cecil's great Creature."


[464] _Dom. James I._ lvii. 92-93, October 5th.

[465] At the time of the Plot Charles was not quite five years old.

[466] Erskine.

[467] _Dom. James I._ lxxii. 129.



_The draft, November 8th, 1605_ (G.P.B. 49).

*** Passages between square brackets have been cancelled. Those marked *
have been ticked off for omission.

_The Confession of Guy Fawkes, taken the 8 of November, 1605._

HE confesseth that a Practise in generall was first broken unto him,
agaynst his Majesty, for the Catholique cause, and not invented or
propounded by himself, and this was first propounded unto him about
Easter last was twelvemonth, beyond the seas in the Low countreyes, by
an English Lay-man, and that English man came over with him in his
company into England, and they tow and three more weare the first five
mencioned in the former examination. And they five resolving to do some
thinge for the Catholick cause,--a vowe being first taken by all of them
for secrecye,--one of the other three propounded to perform it with
Powder, and resolved that the place should be,--where this action should
be performed and justice done,--in or neere the place of the sitting of
the Parliament, wherein Religion had been uniustly suppressed. This
beeinge resolved the manner [of it] was as followeth.


_As signed by Faukes, November 17th, 1605_ (G.P.B. 101).

*** Square brackets indicate an erasure. Italics an addition or

The [deposition] _declaration_ of Guy Fawkes prisonner in the Tower of
London _taken the 17 of Nov. 1605, acknowledged before the Lords

_A._ I confesse that a practise in generall was first broken unto me
against his Majestie, for releife of the Catholique cause, and not
invented or propounded by my self.

And this was first propounded unto me about Easter last was twelvemonth,
beyond the Seas, in the Low countries of the Archdukes obeysance by
Thomas Wynter, who came thereupon with me into England, and there wee
imparted our purpose to three other Englishmen more, namely Rob^t
Catesby, Tho^s Percy, and John Wright, who all five consulting together
of the meanes how to execute the same, and taking a vowe among our
selves for secresie Catesby propounded to have it performed by
Gunpowder, and by making a myne under the upper house of Parliament,
which place wee made choice of the rather,

[_A. The draft._]

First they hyred the Howse at Westminster of one Ferris,[469] and
havinge the howse they sought to make a myne under the upper howse of
Parliament, and they begann to make the myne in or about the xi of
December, and they five first entered into the worke, and soone after
toke an other unto them, havinge first sworne him and taken the
Sacrament, for secrecye. And when they came to the wall,--that was about
three yards thicke,--and found it a matter of great difficultie, they
tooke to them an other in like manner, with oath and Sacrament as afore
sayd. All which seaven, were gentlemen of name and bloode, and not any
man was employed in or about that action,--noe not so much as in
digginge and myning that was not a gentleman. And having wrought to the
wall before Christmas, they reasted untill after the holydayes, and the
day before Christmas,--having a masse of earth that came out of the
myne,--they carryed it into the Garden of the said Howse, and after
Christmas they wrought on the wall till Candlemas, and wrought the wall
half through, and sayeth that all the tyme while the others wrought he
stood as Sentynell to descrie any man that came neere, and when any man
came neere to the place, uppon warninge given by him they rested untill
they had notyce to proceed from hym, and sayeth that they seaven all lay
in the Howse, and had shott and powder, and they all resolved to dye in
that place before they yeilded or weare taken.

[_B. The Confession as signed._]

because Religion having been unjustly suppressed there, it was fittest
that Justice and punishment should be executed there.

_B._ This being resolved amongst us, Thomas Percy hired a howse at
Westminster for that purpose, neare adjoyning the Parl^t howse, and
there wee beganne to make a myne about the xi of December 1604. The fyve
that entered into the woorck were Thomas Percye, Robert Catesby, Thomas
Wynter, John Wright, and my self, and soon after we tooke another unto
us, Christopher Wright, having sworn him also, and taken the Sacrament
for secrecie.

_C._ When wee came to the verie foundation of the Wall of the house,
which was about 3 yeards thick, and found it a matter of great
difficultie, we took to us another gentleman Robert [Wynter] _Keys_[470]
in like manner with our oathe and Sacrament as aforesaid.

       *       *       *       *       *

_D._ It was about Christmas when wee brought our myne unto the Wall, and
about Candlemas we had wrought the Wall half through. And whilst they
were a working, I stood as sentinell, to descrie any man that came
neare, whereof I gave them warning, and so they ceased untill I gave
them notice agayne to proceede. All wee seaven lay in the house, and had
shott and powder, being resolved to dye in that place before we should
yeild or be taken.

[_A. The draft._]

And as they weare workinge, they heard a rushinge in the cellar which
grew by _one_[471] Brights selling of his coles whereuppon this
Examinant, fearinge they had been discovered, went into the cellar and
viewed the cellar, and perceivinge the commoditye thereof for their
purposs, and understandinge how it would be letten his maister, M^r
Percy, hyred the Cellar for a yeare, for 4 pounds rent. And confesseth
that after Christmas 20^{ty} barrells of Powder weare brought by
themselves to a Howse which they had on the Banksyde in Hampers, and
from that Howse removed the powder to the sayd Howse, neere the upper
Howse of Parliament. And presently upon hyringe the cellar, they
themselfs removed the powder into the cellar, and couvered the same with
faggots which they had before layd into the sellar.

After, about Easter, he went into the Low Countryes,--as he before hath
declared in his former examination,--and that the trew purpos of his
goinge over was least beinge a dangerous man he should be known and
suspected, and in the meane tyme he left the key [of the cellar] with
M^r Percye, whoe in his absence caused more Billetts to be layd into the
Cellar, as in his former examination he confessed, and retourned about
the end of August or the beginninge of September, and went agayne to the
sayd howse, nere to the sayd cellar, and received the key of the cellar
agayne of one of the five. And then they brought in five or six barrells
of powder more into the cellar, which all soe they couvered with
billetts, saving fower little barrells covered with ffaggots, and then
this examinant went into the Country about the end of September.

[_B. The Confession as signed._]

_E._ As they were working upon the wall, they heard a rushing in a
cellar of removing of coles; whereupon wee feared wee had been
discovered, and they sent me to go to the cellar, who fynding that the
coles were a selling, and that the Cellar was to be lett, viewing the
commoditye thereof for our purpose, Percy went and hired the same for
yearly Rent.

Wee had before this provyded and brought into the house 20 barrells of
Powder, which wee removed into the Cellar, and covered the same with
billets and fagots, which we provided for that purpose.

       *       *       *       *       *

_F._ About Easter, the Parliament being proroged tyll October next, wee
dispersed our selfs and I retired into the Low countryes, _by advice and
direction of the rest, as well to acquaint Owen with the particulars of
the plot, as also_[472] lest by my longer staye I might have grown
suspicious, and so have come in question.

In the meane tyme Percy, having the key of the Cellar, layd in more
powder and wood into it.

I returned about the beginning of September next and then receyving the
key againe of Percy, we brought in more powder and billets to cover the
same againe.

[_A. The draft._]

* It appeareth the powder was in the cellar, placed as it was found the
5 of November, when the Lords came to proroge the Parliament, and sayeth
that he returned agayne to the sayd Howse neare the cellar on Wednesday
the 30 of October.

[He confesseth he was at the Erle of Montgomeryes marriage, but as he
sayeth with noe intention of evill, havinge a sword about him, and was
very neere to his Majesty and the Lords there present.]

Forasmuch as they knew not well how they should come by the person of
the Duke Charles, beeinge neere London, where they had no forces,--if he
had not been all soe blowne upp,--He confesseth that it was resolved
amonge them, that the same day that this detestable act should have been
performed, the same day should other of their confederacye have
surprised the person of the Lady Elizabeth, and presently have
proclaimed her queen [to which purpose a Proclamation was drawne, as
well to avowe and justify the Action, as to have protested against the
Union, and in no sort to have meddeled with Religion therein. And would
have protested all soe agaynst all strangers] and this proclamation
should have been made in the name of the Lady Elizabeth.

* Beinge demanded why they did not surprise the Kinges person and draw
him to the effectinge of their purpose, sayeth that soe many must have
been acquaynted with such an action as it could not have been kept

He confesseth that if their purpose had taken effect untill they had
power enough they would not have avowed the deed to be theirs; but if
their power,--for their defence and safetye,--had been sufficient they
themselfes would have taken it upon them.

[_B. The Confession as signed._]

And so [I] went for a tyme into the country, till the 30 of October.

       *       *       *       *       *

_G._ It was farther resolved amongst us that the same day that this
action should have been performed some other of our confederates should
have surprised the person of the Lady Elizabeth the Kings eldest
daughter, who was kept in Warwickshire at the Lo. Harringtons house, and
presently have proclaimed her for Queene, having a project of a
Proclamation ready for the purpose, wherein we made no mention of
altering of Religion,----

       *       *       *       *       *

---- nor would have avowed the deed to be ours untill we should have had
power enough to make our partie good, and then we would have avowed

[_A. The draft._]

* They meant all soe to have sent for the Prisoners in the Tower to have
come to them, of whom particularly they had some consultation.

* He confesseth that the place of Rendez-vous was in Warwickshire, and
that armour was sent thither, but the particuler thereof he knowes not.

He confesseth that they had consultation for the takinge of the Lady
Marye into their possession, but knew not how to come by her.

And confesseth that provision was made by some of the conspiracye of
some armour of proofe this last Summer for this Action.

* He confesseth that the powder was bought of the common Purse of the

    L. Admyrall         }
    L. Chamberlayne     }
    Erle of Devonshire  } attended by M^r
    Erle of Northampton } Attorney generall.
    Erle of Salisbury   }
    Erle of Marr        }
    L. cheif Justice    }

[_Endorsed_] Examination of Guy Fauks, Nov^r 8th, 1605.

[_B. The Confession as signed._]

_H._ Concerning Duke Charles, the Kings second son, we hadd sundrie
consultations how to sease on his person, but because wee found no
meanes how to compasse it,--the Duke being kept near London,--where we
had not forces enough, wee resolved to serve ourselves with the Lady

       *       *       *       *       *

_J._ The names of other principall persons that were made privie
afterwards to this horrible conspiracie.

    [_Signed_] GUIDO FAUKES.

    Everard Digby, Knight
    Ambrose Ruckwood
    Francis Tresham
    John Grant
    Robert [Keys] _Wynter_

    [_Witnessed_] Edw. Coke   W. Waad.

    [_Endorsed_] Fawkes his [deposition] _declaration 17 Nov.


[468] Alterations and additions (in italics) made by Sir Edward Coke.

[469] This name has seemingly been tampered with.

[470] Changed by Cecil; but on November 14th, writing to Edmondes, he
included Keyes amongst those that "wrought not in the myne," and R.
Winter amongst those who did.

[471] Interlined.

[472] The words italicised are added in the published version.

[473] Words in italics added by Coke.


    Abbot, Robert, Bishop of Salisbury, his version of the missing
    confessions of Faukes, 192 _seq._

    Acton, Robert, 113.

    Alabaster, Thomas, a priest in government employ, 204 _note_.

    Andrew, William, servant to Sir E. Digby, evidence of, 78 _note_.

    _Annals of England_, cited, 48.

    _Answere to Scandalous papers_ (Cecil's manifesto), 44, 219 _seq._

    Babington's Plot, 14.

    Baldwin, Father William, S.J.; allegations against him, 185, 187
    _seq._; which are not substantiated, 195; correspondence with Father
    Schondonck, 201, 222.

    Bancroft, Richard, Archbishop of Canterbury, 46, 147.

    Barlow, Thomas, Bishop of Lincoln, 62, 70 _note_.

    Barnes, a government agent, 112.

    Bartlett, George, servant to Catesby, his evidence reported, 160.

    Bates, Thomas, servant to Catesby, his introduction to the
    Conspiracy, 3, 178; his alleged evidence against Greenway, 178-183;
    trial and execution, 6. _See also_ Conspirators.

    Batty, Matthew, evidence regarding Monteagle, 78 _note_.

    "Blackfriars Downfall," the, 242.

    Blount, Father Richard, S.J., on government intelligence, 77; on
    Suffolk's proposal of toleration, 224; on Cecil's "new stratagem,"
    224, 225.

    Brayley and Britton (_Palace of Westminster_), 79 _note_.

    Brewer, Rev. John Sherren, on the fate of Parry, the conspirator,
    14; on government devices, 15; on Cecil's knowledge of the Plot, 48;
    on the Monteagle letter, 117.

    Bromley, Sir Henry, Sheriff of Worcestershire, 167 _note_.

    Buck, Mr., alleged warning given to, 51 _note_, 106.

    Burnet, Gilbert, Bishop of Salisbury, 46.

    "Bye," the, 15 _note_.

    Camden, William, the historian, 36 _note_.

    Capon, William, on the old Palace of Westminster, 79, 86; on traces
    of the mine, 87.

    Carleton, Dudley, afterwards Viscount Dorchester, patronized by
    Cecil, 62; assists Percy to hire the house at Westminster, 61;
    reports the French version of the Plot, 140; and its contradiction,
    141; his mysterious connection with the Conspiracy, 150 _note_; his
    opinion of Percy, 150.

    Castlemaine, Earl of (Roger Palmer), on State plots, 14, 48; on
    Osborne's qualifications as an historian, 44 _note_; on the fate of
    decoy ducks, 152.

    Carte, Thomas (_General History of England_), 46.

    Carey, ----, evidence regarding Percy, 150.

    Catesby, Robert, a ringleader in the Conspiracy, 9, 64; his
    character and antecedents, 35 _seq._; persuades his associates not
    to reveal their project to priests, 179; undertakes to proclaim the
    new sovereign, 83; his death, 4, 152 _seq._; suspicions concerning
    him, 156, 160. _See also_ Conspirators.

    Catholics, their numbers, 28; their condition under Elizabeth, 29;
    their hopes from James, 31, 33, 247, 248; his promises to them, 29;
    they welcome his accession, _ibid_, 34; temporary relief at his
    hands, _ibid_; their consequent increase, 28, 30; Cecil's hostility,
    28, 30, 47, 48, 51, 105; attempt to charge them with the Plot, 4-6,
    107, 108; legislation against them on account of it, 212 _seq._; its
    lasting effects in their regard, 209, 225.

    Cecil, Robert, first Earl of Salisbury, his character, 19 _seq._;
    dignities conferred by James I., 19 _note_; and nicknames, 19
    _note_; his unpopularity, 21 _seq._; difficulties and dangers of his
    position, 26 _seq._; in the pay of Spain, 21; and probably of
    France, 22 _note_; his secret correspondence with King James, 21;
    his intrigues against Northumberland and Raleigh, 26, 198, 216;
    hostility to the Catholics, 27, 95, 105; anxiety on account of the
    king's attitude, 28; and dealings with Pope Clement VIII., 104;
    endeavours to commit James to a policy of intolerance, 105; his
    political methods, 44, 111; employs the services of forgers, 112
    _note_, 203; his knowledge of the Plot, 94 _seq._; alleged secret
    dealings with Percy, 15; Tresham, 158; and Catesby, 160; contradicts
    himself concerning the "discovery," 123 _seq._; his inexplicable
    delay in making it, 132; and conduct afterwards, 137; was not taken
    by surprise, 210; at once turns the Plot to his advantage, 213; his
    determination to incriminate priests, 4 _seq._, 130; advantages
    reaped by him, 30, 213 _seq._; his Manifesto, 218 _seq._; suspected
    of having originated or manipulated the Conspiracy, 43 _seq._;
    alleged attempt to float a second Plot, 225.

    Cecil, Thomas, first Earl of Exeter, 19 _note_, 160 _note_.

    Cecil, William, second Earl of Salisbury, his testimony reported,

    Cecil, William, a priest in government employ, 45 _note_.

    "Cellar," the, its situation and character, 58, 79 _note_; hired by
    the conspirators, 69 _seq._; problems concerning it, 87 _seq._; its
    after history, 137; accompanies the migrations of the House of
    Lords, 80 _note_.

    Challoner, Sir Thomas, information addressed to, 94, 95.

    Chamberlain, John, M.P., on Cecil's death and character, 23, 24;
    account of the "discovery," 128; on the King's lucky day, 231; on
    Percy's character, 150.

    Charles, Duke of York, afterwards Charles I.; plans of the
    conspirators regarding him, 81 _seq._

    Chichester, Sir Arthur, Deputy in Ireland, 4, 108, 124.

    Coal, Father Greenway's description of, 71 _note_.

    Cobham, eighth Lord (Henry Brooke), his charge of forgery against
    Waad, 202.

    Cobham, ninth Lord (William Brooke), his evidence reported, 45.

    Coke, Sir Edward, Attorney-General, his falsification of evidence,
    200; Cecil's instructions to him, 116 _note_; his assertions, 85,
    88; interrogatories prepared by him, 176; his humour, 63 _note_;
    proofs against Owen, 190; witnesses Thomas Winter's declaration,
    169; and that of Faukes, 172; his treatment of Raleigh and
    Northumberland, 217.

    Coleridge, Lord Chief Justice, on the English penal laws, 29 _note_.

    Conspirators, the, list of, 2, 3; their character and antecedents,
    35-41; their enrolment, 9, 64, 252; their plans and proceedings,
    9-11, 60 _seq._; mining operations, 10, 63; incredibility of the
    story, 65 _seq._, 76 _seq._, 141; they hire the "cellar," 69 _seq._;
    purchase and store gunpowder, 78; difficulties concerning it, 78,
    132, 134-137; further designs, 11, 80-82; alarmed by the
    prorogation, 114, 230; flight and attempted rebellion, 2; their
    fate, 4-6.

    Cope, Sir Walter, on the character of Cecil, 27 _note_.

    Cornwallis, Sir Charles, English Ambassador in Spain, on the
    character of the conspirators, 40; letter to Father Cresswell, 195;
    on the Catholic design to murder Cecil, 221 _note_.

    Cresswell, Father Joseph, S.J., allegations concerning him, 195;
    Cornwallis' letter to him, _ibid_.

    Dacre, Francis, titular Lord, efforts to connect him with the Plot,

    Darnley, Henry, Lord, father of James I., the victim of a gunpowder
    plot, 37, 50.

    Davenport, Father Christopher, O.P. (Francis à S. Clara), 145

    Davies, Joseph, a government "discoverer," 94.

    De Beaumont, M., French Ambassador, 119 _note_.

    De la Boderie, M., French Ambassador, on Cecil's insecurity, 26; on
    the ruin of Northumberland, 23.

    Del-Rio, Father Martin, S.J., said to have described the Plot A.D.
    1600, 263.

    Derby, Earl of (William Stanley), attempt to incriminate him, 198.

    De Ros, Lord, on Faukes' plan of escape, 144 _note_.

    Devonshire, Earl of (Charles Blount), 168 _note_, 170 _note_, 211,

    Digby, Sir Everard, joins the Conspiracy, 10, 253; difficulties and
    contradictions regarding him, 79 _note_, 253; his letter to
    Salisbury, 33, 245; part assigned to him, 78 _note_; his fate, 6.
    _See also_ Conspirators.

    Digby, Sir John, English Ambassador in Spain, 22 _note_.

    Digby, Sir Kenelm, his evidence reported, 160.

    Digby, Sir Robert, 38 _note_.

    Dixon, Hepworth (_Her Majesty's Tower_), on government intelligence,
    111 _note_.

    Dodd, Rev. Charles, on the origin of the Plot, 18, 51.

    Dorset, Earl of (Thomas Sackville), his esteem for Cecil, 21.

    Dunbar, Earl of (George Hume), 168 _note_, 172, 266.

    Dunfermline, Earl of (Alexander Seaton), on the effective use of
    torture, 259.

    Dunsmoor Heath, projected hunting match on, 11.

    Edmondes, Sir Thomas, English Ambassador at Brussels, account of the
    "discovery" sent to him, 108, 124; version of Faukes' confession
    sent to him, 186; proofs against Owen sent to him, 190, 191; his
    negotiations with the archdukes, 186 _seq._; letters of, 102, 187,
    188, 189; letters to, 85, 106, 113, 154, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190.

    Elizabeth, Princess, daughter of James I., designs of the
    conspirators regarding her, 81.

    _England's Warning Peece_, 195, 262.

    _English Protestants' Plea_, 40, 51, 108 _note_, 195 _note_.

    Eudaemon-Joannes, Father Andrew, S.J., 204.

    Faukes, Guy or Guido, _alias_ John Johnson, his position and
    character, 39, 262; his Spanish mission, 36; introduced to the
    Conspiracy, 9, 64; passes as Percy's servant, 71, 77; keeps guard
    while the others work, 66; discovers the "cellar," 70; has charge of
    the premises, 77, 89, 142; visits Flanders, 91, 162; appointed to
    fire the powder, 1; plans for his escape, 144; arrest, 123-128;
    published confession, 169 _seq._, 268 _seq._; evidence falsified,
    200; missing depositions, 191; tortured, 172, 200, 260; trial and
    execution, 6, 260; fables respecting him, 261. _See also_

    Favat, Mr., Cecil's letter to, 5, 182.

    Ferrers, Henry, sub-lets the house at Westminster to Percy, 61.

    Fifth of November, a propitious day for the "discovery," 231; the
    day solemnized, 5.

    Floyde, Griffith, a government spy, 49.

    French historians on the Plot, 141 _note_.

    French official accounts of the Plot, 140, 141.

    Fuller, Mr., M.P., 132 _note_.

    Fuller, Thomas (_Church History of Britain_), 46, 225.

    Fulman MSS., 169.

    Gardiner, Professor Samuel Rawson, his favourable estimate of
    Cecil's character, 20; on the Spanish pension, 22 _note_; repudiates
    imputations against the government, 18; on the conspirators' plans,
    82; on the Monteagle letter, 117; on the king's interpretation, 132
    _note_; on the desire to incriminate priests, 4 _note_.

    Garnet, Father Henry, S.J., proclaimed as a principal conspirator,
    5; his capture, 7, 166; lack of evidence, 7; trial and execution,
    _ibid_.; his account of the conspirators' proceedings, 208; his
    evidence against Catesby, 157; on the accession of James, 29 _note_.

    _Gentleman's Magazine_, 52 _note_, 262.

    Gerard, Col. John, 160 _note_.

    Gerard, Father John, S.J., proclaimed as a principal conspirator, 5;
    exonerated by historians, 237; his history of the Plot, 205; his
    experiences in the Tower, 202; on the persecution of Catholics, 32;
    opinion of the "discovery," 49; and of the official narrative, 129;
    on the death of Percy and Catesby, 156 _note_.

    Goodman, Godfrey, Bishop of Gloucester, on the origin of the
    Conspiracy, 44; on the king's promises to Catholics, 29 _note_; on
    the persecution of Catholics, 32; on the "discovery," 134 _note_; on
    the death of Whynniard, 92 _note_; on Percy's intercourse with
    Cecil, 151; on the death of Percy and Catesby, 154; his religious
    views, 145 _note_.

    Gowrie Conspiracy, the, 231, 232.

    "Great Horses," 2 _note_.

    Grange, Justice E., 148 _note_.

    Grant, John, 37. _See also_ Conspirators.

    Green, Mrs. Everett, wrongly describes Owen as a Jesuit, 185 _note_.

    Green, John Richard (_History of the English People_), 30.

    Greenway, _alias_ Tesimond, Father Oswald, S.J., proclaimed as a
    principal conspirator, 5; Bates' alleged evidence against him,
    178-183; his history of the Plot, 206; opinion of the official
    narrative, 134; on the effects of an explosion, 133; on government
    despatches concerning Percy, 155; his visit to the rebels at
    Huddington, 206 _note_; fables respecting him, 264.

    Gregory, Arthur, a forger employed by government, 203.

    Grene, Father Martin, S.J., notes on the Plot, 45.

    Gunpowder, amount procured by the conspirators, 78; difficulties
    concerning it, 132 _seq._

    Hagley Hall, R. Winter and S. Littleton captured there, 4.

    Hallam, Henry (_Constitutional History_), repudiates imputations
    against the government, 18; on Father Garnet's capture, _ibid_.,
    _note_; on King James's title to the crown, 34.

    Harington, Sir John, 4.

    Hawarde, John (_Les Reportes del Cases in Camera Stellata_), 165

    Heiwood, or Heywood, Peter, 139 _note_, 258.

    Hendlip House (Thomas Abbington's), the scene of Father Garnet's
    capture, 18 _note_, 166 _note_.

    Henry, Prince of Wales, anticipations concerning him, 33; the
    conspirators' plans in his regard, 80, 81, 176.

    Herring, Francis (_Pietas Pontificia_), 27 _note_, 143 _note_.

    Higgons, Bevil (_English History_), 47.

    Hoby, Sir Edward, on the death of Percy, 154.

    Holbeche House (Stephen Littleton's), the conspirators there slain
    or captured, 2, 4.

    House of Lords, its situation and subsequent migrations, 55 _seq._;
    never represented in pictures of the Plot, 228.

    House, Percy's, at Westminster, its position, 60, 251; circumstances
    of the bargain for it, 60; difficulties concerning it, 62, 64, 67,

    Howes, Edmund (continuation of Stowe's _Chronicle_), 127.

    Huddington House (Robert Winter's), 206 _note_.

    Ichrup, Thomas, name given to Faukes, 149, 244.

    Inglefield, Sir Francis, 249.

    James I., King of Great Britain, his claim to the succession, 34;
    circumstances of his accession, 34, 35; hopes of the Catholics, 28;
    who support his cause, 34; his policy at first favourable to them,
    29; soon reversed, 31; his dealings with Pope Clement VIII., 104;
    his supposed interpretation of the letter, 128, 131; Tuesday his
    lucky day, 230; his speech to Parliament, 211; accuses Catholics in
    general and the Pope, 4; suspected of previous knowledge of the
    Plot, 46; anxiety for evidence against priests, 182; letter to the
    Archdukes, 187 _note_; alleged subsequent opinion of the Plot, 45;
    instructions for the torture of Faukes, 259; his Scotch dialect, 260
    _note_; gives his royal word against Owen and Baldwin, 187; his
    policy permanently affected, 209.

    James, John, a supposed Dominican, 139 _note_, 258.

    Jardine, David, on the character of the official narrative, 129,
    163; on the falsification of evidence, 199; on the Monteagle letter,
    117; on the king's interpretation, 132 _note_; on the established
    facts of the case, 12; not perfectly impartial, 161, 207; on the
    results of the Plot, 213.

    Jessopp, Augustus, D.D., on the value of money, 36 _note_, 117
    _note_; on Father Gerard's innocence, 207.

    Jesuits, efforts to incriminate, 177 _note_; Cecil on their
    "insolencies," 106.

    Kennet, White, Bishop of Peterborough, 45 _note_, 46, 263.

    Keyes, Robert, contradictions respecting him, 84 _note_, 183. _See
    also_ Conspirators.

    "King's Book," the, its character, 108; Cecil's description of it,
    219, 220.

    Knyvet, or Knevet, Sir Thomas, leads the party which captures
    Faukes, 124 _seq._; receives a peerage, 139 _note_; the Countess of
    Suffolk his sister, 224 _note_.

    Lake, Sir Thomas, 19, 232.

    Lenthal, William, Speaker of the Long Parliament, his evidence
    reported, 160.

    Lindsay, Sir James, conveys messages between King James and Pope
    Clement VIII., 104.

    Lingard, John, D.D., 68 _note_, 231.

    Littleton, Humphrey, 167 _note_.

    Littleton, Stephen, 2, 4, 156.

    Lodge, Edmund, F.S.A. (_Illustrations of British History_), 98.

    Lopez' Plot, 14.

    "Main," the, 15 _note_, 26, 216.

    Mar, Earl of (John Erskine), 168 _note_, 172, 266.

    Mary, Princess, daughter of James I., 81, 176.

    Milton, poems on the Plot, 226.

    Mine, the, story told respecting it, 63 _seq._; difficulties
    respecting it, 84 _seq._

    _Mischeefe's Mystery_, 72, 115, 121, 123, 153 _note_, 159.

    Money, value of, 36 _note_, 117 _note_; amount raised by
    conspirators, 39.

    Monteagle, Lord (William Parker), his character and antecedents,
    118; relations with the king and court, 34, 119; letter to the king,
    119, 256; connection with the conspirators, 118; communicates the
    warning letter to Cecil, 120-123, 160; attends parliament on the day
    of the "discovery," 137 _note_; devices of the government on his
    behalf, 116; rewards conferred, 116; subsequent conduct, 258.

    Moore, Sir Francis, his evidence reported, 151.

    Moore, Sir Jonas, 138.

    More, Father Henry, S.J., 49.

    Morgan, Harry, 81 _note_.

    Morgan, Thomas, 157 _note_, 193 _note_.

    Naunton, Sir Robert, on Cecil's character, 19.

    Northampton, Earl of (Henry Howard), a nominal Catholic promoted by
    King James, 29; Cecil's agent in his secret correspondence, 26
    _note_; on Cecil's death, 23; on the history of the "cellar," 58
    _note_; not admitted to all Cecil's secrets, 112.

    Northumberland, Earl of (Henry Percy), a rival of Cecil's, 26; who
    secretly traduces him, 26 _note_, 215, 216; the Plot turned to his
    ruin, 26, 107, 216-218; which is attributed to Cecil, 26 _note_,
    218, his sentiments in return, 218.

    Nottingham, Earl of, Lord Admiral (Charles Howard), 170 _note_,

    Oates, Titus, 46, 138.

    Oath taken by the conspirators, 9.

    Oldcorne, _alias_ Hall, Father Edward, S.J., captured along with
    Garnet, 7; never accused of complicity _ib._; Catholic demonstration
    at his execution, 28 _note_; tortured, 173.

    Oldmixon (_Royal House of Stuart_), 25 _note_, 46.

    Osborne, Francis, on Cecil's unpopularity, 25; on the "discovery,"
    44; on the 5th of August celebration, 232 _note_; on Northumberland
    and Cecil, 218; his qualifications as an historian, 44.

    Owen, Captain Hugh, falsely described as a Jesuit, 173 _note_, 185
    _note_; particularly obnoxious to the government, 173, 185; evidence
    fabricated against him, 174; Cecil's instruction respecting him, 116
    _note_; efforts made to secure him, 185 _seq._; his intercourse with
    Phelippes, 112, 185 _note_.

    Owen, Lewis, 263.

    Paris, Henry, 162.

    Parliament, its successive adjournments, 67, 70 _note_, 91, 114,
    230; meets on the day of the "discovery," 136; activity against
    Catholics, 5, 212 _seq._

    Parry, Sir Thomas, English Ambassador at Paris, instructions given
    to, 28 _note_; intelligence supplied by, 98, 101, 102; account of
    the discovery furnished to, 126 _seq._

    Parry, Dr. William, his Plot, 14, 153.

    Parsons, Father Robert, S.J., letters to, 29 _note_, 77, 223; his
    views as to the succession, 249; on Walsingham's "spyery," 77.

    Percy, Sir Charles, 192 _note_.

    Percy, Thomas, one of the first and principal conspirators, 9, 64;
    his antecedents, 36, 37, 148; house hired by him, 60; and "cellar,"
    75; strange conduct in both transactions, 88; conduct afterwards,
    88, 91; undertakes to seize Duke Charles or Princess Elizabeth, 82;
    his death, 4, 152 _seq_; profession of religious zeal, 148; bigamy,
    _ibid_; Catholics suspicious of him, 150; alleged secret dealings
    with Cecil, 151; the case against him, 148-156. _See also_

    Phelippes, Thomas, the "decipherer," employed by the government,
    111; their devices against him, 112; correspondence with Hugh Owen,
    185 _note_.

    Pickering, Mr., and his horse, 261. _Plain and Rational Account of
    the Catholick Faith_, 49.

    Plots under Elizabeth and James I., 14, 15, 153, 157 _note_, 193
    _note_; their common feature, 13.

    _Polititian's Catechism_, 51 _note_, 106, 137 _note_.

    Pope Clement VIII., interchanges communications with James I., 104.

    Pope Paul V., represented as an accomplice in the Plot, 5, 239.

    Popham, Sir John, Lord Chief Justice, 170 _note_, 197, 266.

    Raleigh, Sir Walter, Cecil's enmity towards him, 26 _note_, 48
    _note_, 198; his ruin, 26, 216; attempt to implicate him in the
    Powder Plot, 197, 198.

    Ratcliffe, Ralph, a government spy, 95, 96, 191.

    Rich, Sir Edwin, 264.

    Richardot, President, 189.

    Rogers, Professor Thorold, on the value of money, 117 _note_; on
    James's title to the throne, 34.

    Rokewood, Ambrose, 179 _note_. _See also_ Conspirators.

    Salisbury, first Earl of. _See_ Cecil, Robert.

    Salisbury, second Earl of. _See_ Cecil, William.

    Sanderson, Sir William, 46.

    Schondonck, Father Giles, S. J., Rector of St. Omers, on the
    innocence of the Jesuits, 201; on Cecil's manifesto, 222.

    Scott, Sir Walter, 132 _note_.

    Shakespeare, never alludes to the Plot, 226 _note_.

    Sharpe, Dr. R. R., 262 _note_.

    Shepherd, John, evidence of, 251.

    Smith, John Thomas (_Antiquities of Westminster_), 58 _note_, 79
    _note_, 89 _note_.

    Soane, Sir John, 238.

    Southwaick, or Southwell, a government spy, 99-102.

    Speed, John (_Historie_), 62, 63 _note_.

    Squires, Edward, his plot, 14.

    Stanley, Sir William, 185, 192 _note_.

    Strange, Father Thomas, S. J., 96 _note_.

    Streete, John, pensioned for killing Percy and Catesby, 155.

    Strype, John (_Annals_), 28 _note_.

    Suffolk, Earl of, Lord Chamberlain (Thomas Howard), his venality,

    Talbot, John, of Grafton, 38 _note_.

    Talbot, Peter, Archbishop of Dublin. _See Polititian's Catechism._

    Theobald, Lewis, 267.

    Topcliffe, Richard, priest-hunter, 202.

    Torture, use of, 4, 5, 172, 173, 201 _note_, 259, 260.

    Tresham, Francis, enlisted in the enterprise, 10, 252 _seq_.; his
    previous record, 35, 36; his action on behalf of King James, 34;
    suspected of writing the warning letter, 147, 158; and of collusion
    with Cecil, _ibid._; his conduct after the "discovery," 3, 158; his
    death in the Tower, 6 _note_, 158. _See also_ Conspirators.

    Tresham, Sir Thomas, proclaims King James, 34; summoned to Court,

    _True and Perfect Relation_, character of the narrative, 43, 163.

    Tytler, Patrick Fraser, 112.

    Usher, James, Archbishop of Armagh, his evidence reported, 45.

    _Venatio Catholica_, 261.

    _Vetusta Monumenta_, 79, 86.

    Villeroy, M., on Cecil's duplicity, 23.

    "Vinegar House," 60 _note_.

    Vowell, Peter, evidence reported, 160.

    Waad, Sir William, lieutenant of the Tower, charged by Cobham with
    forgery of evidence, 202; dismissed from his post, 203 _note_, 267;
    his inscriptions in the Tower, 264, 267; letters to Cecil, 168, 258.

    Walsh, Sir Richard, sheriff of Worcestershire, 4, 154 _note_.

    Ward, Samuel, preacher and artist, 239.

    Webb, John, evidence reported, 160.

    Weldon, Sir Anthony, on Cecil's unpopularity, 25.

    Welwood, James (_Memoirs_), 46.

    Westmoreland, titular Earl of (Henry Neville), attempt to implicate
    him, 197.

    Whynniard, Mr., landlord of Percy's house, 61 _note_, 89; his sudden
    death, 92 _note_.

    Whynniard, Mrs., evidence of, 61, 67, 72, 88, 142.

    Willaston, William, intelligence supplied by, 99.

    Wimbledon, Viscount (Edward Cecil), his evidence reported, 160.

    Windsor, Lord, his house plundered by the conspirators, 2.

    Winter, Robert, introduced to the conspiracy, 10; captured at
    Hagley, 4; evidences of foul play in his regard, 183, 184; trial and
    execution, 6. _See also_ Conspirators.

    Winter, Thomas, one of the first conspirators, 9, 64; character, 35;
    Spanish mission, 36, 118; brings Faukes from Flanders, 9; attends
    the prorogation, Oct. 3rd, 74 _note_, 230; captured at Holbeche, 4;
    his published confession, 167 _seq._; probably tortured, 169; trial
    and execution, 6. _See also_ Conspirators.

    Wood, Anthony à, notes addressed to, 159.

    Worcester, Earl of (Edward Somerset), 168 _note_, 266.

    Wotton, Sir Henry, 160.

    Wren, Sir Christopher, 138.

    Wright, Christopher, his introduction to the Conspiracy, 9, 64;
    character, 35, 37; previous employment in Spain, 36; killed at
    Holbeche, 4, 152. _See also_ Conspirators.

    Wright, Henry, his informations, 94, 95, 254.

    Wright, John, one of the first conspirators, 9, 64; character, 35,
    37; killed at Holbeche, 4, 152. _See also_ Conspirators.



p 14: there is no closing quotation mark following the line '"making and
fomenting plots was then in fashion; nor can it be denied that good
grounds for such an opinion were not lacking.' The closing mark is
placed at the end of this sentence, though this may be incorrect.

p 20: continuation of footnote 37 from previous page begins with 'avor';
this is a typo for 'favor'.

p 24: 'the' repeated in footnote 49, epigram 2; one 'the' removed.

p 32: added a closing quotation mark following 'and prepared for them'.

p 36: added . to end of footnote 87, after 'The Spanish Treason'.

p 49: Inserted , into footnote 124; 'James I., lxxxi.'.

p 120: footnote 257: missing closing bracket; corrected.

p 154: inserted , into footnote 310; 'James I., i. 588'.

p 160: changed ' to " to match quote mark style, footnote 329.

p 194: footnote 396: 'Englands' changed to 'England's'.

p 248: added missing full-stop: 'give ease to Catholics'.

p 255: added opening double-quote marks to the passage entitled
'Application to the King.'

p 266: the oe ligature was represented as [oe]

p 268, 269: uncommon 'inverted asterism' topographic marks are used to
signify important notes on conventions used in the text; they have the
form of three asterixes arranged in a v-shape. For simplicity, they are
replaced with '***' in this document.

p 281: 'incrediblty' changed to 'incredibility', 'o' changed to 'of'.

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