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Title: Guy Fawkes - or A Complete History Of The Gunpowder Treason, A.D. 1605
Author: Lathbury, Thomas
Language: English
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                              GUY FAWKES;

                          A COMPLETE HISTORY


                        THE GUNPOWDER TREASON,
                              A.D. 1605;


                           THE CONSPIRATORS,



                                BY THE

                      REV. THOMAS LATHBURY, M.A.,

                     THE REFORMATION, TILL 1829.”

                     JOHN W. PARKER, WEST STRAND.



Though the particulars connected with the Gunpowder Treason may be
perused in the general histories of the period, yet I am not aware, that
any modern narrative of that dark design is to be found in a separate
form. Many brief sketches have, indeed, been published in various modern
works: but no full and complete history of the Treason has ever been set
forth. In compiling the present volume, I have collected, from various
quarters, all the information which I could discover on the subject. It
will be found to be the most complete narrative of the Treason ever
published in a detached form: at the same time it is sufficiently
concise not to weary the patience of the reader.

As to the seasonableness of such a publication, there can be but one
opinion among Churchmen. The aspect of the times, the rapid advances of
Romanism, the appointment of certain Roman Catholics to high and
important offices in the State, and the countenance given to Popery in
high places, are circumstances which naturally direct the attention of
all reflecting persons to the principles of that Church, which has
recently appeared to gain fresh strength in this country. The question
must force itself upon the notice of every true Protestant. The Church
of England is assailed on every side, simply because she is the
strongest bulwark ever erected against the encroachments of Popery: and
history proves that, from the period of the Reformation, our own Church
has been unceasingly attacked, in some way or other, by the advocates of
Romanism. It is, therefore, very desirable that we should consult the
past history of our country, in order that we may discover how the
active emissaries of Rome have always acted. The Gunpowder Treason is
one of the darkest tragedies in our domestic history: and the present
work contains a faithful narrative of that detestable conspiracy. I have
endeavoured also to exhibit the principles on which the conspirators
acted: and I have proved that these principles are still retained by the
Church of Rome.

In order to furnish the reader with a full view of the working of Popish
principles, I have given a sketch of all the Papal attempts against
Queen Elizabeth.

In the last chapter I have inserted the Act of Parliament for the
Observance of the Fifth of November. I have printed the Act, because
there are many clergymen who have never seen it, and who are not
acquainted with the few works in which it is to be found. The clergy are
commanded to read this Act every year, on the Fifth of November: and as
it is not easily to be procured, or, at all events, is not attainable in
a separate form, I cannot but conceive that I am performing an
acceptable service, in thus placing it before the public. It is my
earnest hope that the publication of this little volume may be the means
of bringing some of my clerical brethren to a better observance of the

I have also noticed the variations which the Service for the Fifth of
November has undergone, since its first publication in 1606, to its
final revision in 1689.

It is true that every one knows something of the history of the
Gunpowder Treason: but it is also true, that very few are acquainted
with those principles which gave it birth. We see, in this treason, to
what lengths the principles of the Church of Rome have led their
votaries: and who can assert that she is, in any respect, changed? The
Romanist denies that the principles of his Church are changed: nay, he
must do so, or renounce the doctrine of infallibility, which is
incompatible with change: why, then, should Protestants volunteer
assertions, respecting the altered character of Popery, when the Papists
themselves deny the fact altogether? I may venture to assert that the
individual who advances such a statement, is ignorant of the real
principles of the Church of Rome.

  _October, 1839._


  CHAPTER I.                                                    Page

  A Sketch of Papal Attempts in England and Ireland, during
  the Reign of Elizabeth. The State of Religion and the
  Country on James’s accession                                     1


  Sketches of the Conspirators                                    17


  Proceedings of the Conspirators, to the latter end of
  October, 1605                                                   26


  The Jesuits privy to the Plot. The Narrative continued
  down to the Period of the Discovery of the Treason              40


  The Proceedings of the Conspirators on the Discovery of
  the Plot—their Capture at Holbeach—the Meeting of
  Parliament                                                      57


  Trial of the Conspirators                                       67


  Trial and Execution of Garnet, the Jesuit. The alleged
  Miracles of the Straw. Is declared a Martyr                     78


  The Principles on which the Conspirators acted                  96


  The Act for the Observance of the Day.—A Service
  prepared for the Occasion.—Alterations in the Service to
  suit the Landing of King William. Reflections                  117




As an introduction to the subject, of which this volume professes more
especially to treat, I purpose to give a sketch of the proceedings of
the emissaries of Rome in this country, during the long reign of Queen
Elizabeth. Queen Mary died A.D. 1558, when her sister Elizabeth
succeeded her on the throne. Paul IV. at this time occupied the papal
chair: but in less than a year after her accession he was removed by
death, and was succeeded by Pius IV. Both these pontiffs were quiet and
moderate men, compared with several of those who came after them. At all
events, they did not proceed to those extremities to which their
successors resorted. There were, indeed, parties in the court of Rome,
who laboured to induce these pontiffs to excommunicate the queen, as a
heretic and a usurper; but recollecting the fatal consequences which had
issued from the hasty proceedings of Clement against Henry VIII., or,
probably imagining that greater benefits would result from gentle than
from violent measures, they pursued a moderate course, exhorting the
queen to return to her allegiance to the see of Rome, and even making
promises of concessions respecting the reformation. In 1566, Pius V. was
promoted to the papal chair. In a very brief space he gave indications
of a departure from the moderate councils of his two immediate
predecessors. The efforts of Philip II. of Spain were also, during the
early years of this reign, directed to the same object with those of
Paul IV. and Pius IV. The king was anxious to marry Elizabeth, in order
that he might exercise his influence in England; and as long as he could
entertain a hope that his wishes would be realized, he seconded the
moderate measures of the Roman pontiff. His expectations on this subject
were destined to disappointment; when perceiving that a marriage with
the queen was out of the question, he directed his attention towards the
accomplishment of his designs on this country by other means than those
of treaty and diplomacy.

As soon as Pius V. was fixed in the papal chair a different line of
policy, therefore, was pursued towards England. Some few years, indeed,
elapsed before the queen was actually excommunicated; but conspiracies
and treasons were contrived at Rome, with a view to their execution, as
soon as suitable persons could be found for the purpose.

Pius V. was the pontiff by whom the bull of excommunication against
Elizabeth was issued. The document was dated March, 1569, or 1570,
according to the present mode of computation. Hitherto the court of Rome
had abstained from any direct attempt against the queen and the country:
but from this time plots were contrived and treasons planned in rapid
succession; for when one scheme was frustrated, by the vigilance of the
government, another was adopted; so that the whole reign of Elizabeth,
with the exception of the early portion of it, was constantly developing
some machination or other, devised by the emissaries of Rome. At the
head of the confederacy against the queen were the pope and the king of
Spain, who hated her with the most deadly hatred,—the former, because
she was the chief stay of the reformation, the latter, because she was
an obstacle to the prosecution of his designs on this country[1].

    [Footnote 1: I subjoin a few extracts from the bull issued
    against Elizabeth. It was entitled _The Damnation and
    Excommunication of Queen Elizabeth._ It commenced thus: “He that
    reigneth on high committed one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic
    Church (out of which there is no salvation) to one alone upon
    earth, namely, to Peter, and to Peter’s successor, the bishop of
    Rome. _Him alone he made prince over all people, and all
    kingdoms, to pluck up, destroy, scatter, consume, plant, and
    build, that he may contain the faithful that are knit together
    with the band of charity, in the unity of the Spirit._” Then,
    after an enumeration of Elizabeth’s alleged crimes against the
    holy see, his holiness proceeds: “We do, out of the fulness of
    our apostolic power, declare the aforesaid Elizabeth, being a
    heretic, and a favourer of heretics, to have incurred the
    sentence of _anathema_, and to be cut off from the unity of the
    body of Christ. And, moreover, _we do declare her to be deprived
    of her pretended title to the kingdom aforesaid, and of all
    dominion, dignity, and privilege_. And also the nobility,
    subjects, and people of the said kingdom, and all others, who
    have in any sort sworn unto her, _to be for ever absolved from
    any such oath_. And we do command and interdict all and every
    the noblemen, subjects, and people, _that they presume not to
    obey her, or her monitions, mandates, and laws_.”

    It is necessary to give these extracts in the outset, in order
    that it may be seen that the gunpowder treason, and almost all
    other treasons in the reigns of Elizabeth and James, flowed from
    the doctrines thus promulgated by the papal see.]

The first act of rebellion was the attempt of the earls of Westmoreland
and Northumberland. This was soon after the bull was issued. In all the
treasons and rebellions of this reign some of the priests of Rome were
more or less concerned; and these two earls were instigated to the
attempt by Morton, an Englishman and a priest, who was sent into England
by the pope himself, for the express purpose of stirring up rebellion.
This design, however, was strangled in its birth, and its promoters paid
the penalty of their lives.

In 1576 Pius V. paid the debt of nature, and was succeeded by Gregory
XIII., who did not depart from the practices of his predecessor.
Stukely, another subject of the queen’s, was authorised to go into
Ireland by his holiness and the king of Spain; and the pope had the
presumption to pretend to confer the title of marquis and earl of
several places in that country. He was commissioned to stir up
rebellion, the pope engaging to supply men, and the king of Spain
promising supplies of money. The purpose was, however, defeated: but the
next year several individuals were actually sent into Ireland,
accompanied, as usual, by Sanders, a priest, who was possessed with
legantine authority from his holiness. To encourage the Irish, a banner,
consecrated by the pope, was sent over, and every other means was
resorted to, which the most inveterate enmity could devise. The pontiff
also sent them his apostolical benediction, granting to all who should
fall in the attempt against the _heretics_, a plenary indulgence for all
their sins, and the same privileges as were conferred on those who fell
in battle against the Turks. Sanders, however, died miserably, and the
attempt completely failed.

It was about the year 1580 that the seminary priests, who were so
designated from the circumstance of being trained in certain seminaries
on the Continent, instituted especially for English priests, began to
come over into England for the express purpose of enforcing the bull of
excommunication against the queen. These men were natives of England,
though educated on the Continent. They assumed various disguises on
their arrival, travelling from place to place to promote the grand
design, which had been projected at Rome. They endeavoured to execute
the bull by making various attempts upon the queen’s life, from which,
however, she was mercifully delivered. Two points were constantly kept
in view: the one to stir up dissensions at home, among the queen’s
subjects; the other to induce the papal sovereigns to promise men and
arms, whenever it should be deemed desirable to make a descent on the
country. Many of these men were executed as traitors, though the
Romanists pretend that they were martyrs for their religion[2]. It is
true that their religious views led them into treason and rebellion; yet
they were no more martyrs for their faith than the murderer who was
executed at Tyburn. Parsons and Campion were the leaders of this body:
the former escaped to the Continent, the latter was taken and executed
for his treasonable practices.

    [Footnote 2: For a full discussion of the question, whether the
    priests and others who suffered death at this period and
    subsequently, were punished for religion or for treason, the
    author’s work, _The State of Popery and Jesuitism in England_,
    may be consulted. In that work I have entered fully into the
    subject, and have proved that all the parties who suffered were
    executed for treason.]

It is constantly asserted by Roman Catholic writers, that the priests
who suffered during this reign were martyrs to the faith: and the
inference is attempted to be drawn, that the church of England is as
much exposed to the charge of persecution as the church of Rome. One
thing is certain, however, that, whether the advisers of Elizabeth were
justified in their course or otherwise, they did not consider that they
were putting men to death for religion: but, on the other hand, the
martyrs under Queen Mary were committed to the flames as heretics, not
as traitors or offenders against the laws of the land. When, therefore,
Romanist writers attempt to draw a parallel between the martyrs of the
Anglican church under Queen Mary, and the priests who suffered in the
reign of Elizabeth, it is a sufficient answer to their cavils to allege
the fact, that the former were put to death according to the mode
prescribed in cases of heresy, which was an offence against religion;
the latter were tried and executed for treason, which is an offence
against the state. It is the remark of Archbishop Tillotson that, “We
have found by experience that ever since the reformation they have
continually been pecking at the foundations of our peace and religion;
when God knows we have been so far from thirsting after their blood,
that we did not so much as desire their disquiet, but in order to our
own necessary safety, and indeed to theirs.”

In 1583 Somerville attempted to kill the queen. The plot was discovered,
and its author only escaped a public execution by strangling himself in

In 1585 another plot was revealed. Parry, who had been employed on the
Continent, came into England with a fixed determination to take the life
of the queen. To this act he was instigated by the pope, who sent him
his benediction, with a plenary indulgence for his sins. He was
discovered and condemned. On his trial he produced the pope’s letter,
which had been penned by one of the cardinals.

At this time, when it was found that all the plots were secretly
contrived or supported by the seminary priests, certain severe statutes
were enacted. The priests, whose only occupation in England was to stir
up rebellion, were commanded to quit the country, or be subjected to the
charge of treason. These enactments were absolutely necessary, for every
priest was a traitor: nor was it possible that it should have been
otherwise, where the pope himself encouraged them in their designs.

During this year Sixtus V. was elected pope in the room of Gregory XIII.
This pontiff walked in the steps of his immediate predecessors. It
should be stated, that at that time the doctrine was inculcated, that it
was meritorious to kill heretics, and those who were excommunicated. To
die, therefore, in any such attempts, as those to which I have alluded,
was deemed the readiest way to the crown of martyrdom, which was coveted
by many members of the church of Rome. When such doctrines were
believed, we cannot be surprised that so many treasons and rebellions
were contrived.

In 1586 the life of the queen was attempted by Babington. The plot was
discovered, and he and several of his accomplices were executed.

Thus it became necessary to frame new laws to prevent the plots of the
seminary priests, who flocked into England for the sole purpose of
exciting rebellion. A statute was, therefore, passed, by which it was
made treason for any one, who had been ordained a priest by authority of
the see of Rome, since Elizabeth’s accession, to come into her
dominions. This act was charged with cruelty at the time, and the charge
is still repeated, not only by Romanist, but by many other writers: yet
the act was absolutely necessary in self-defence. It was intended to
keep the priests out of the country, since their coming always issued in
treason and the consequent loss of their lives. Let it be remembered
that the laws against recusants were not enacted until the treasons of
Campion, Parry, and others, had rendered such a step on the part of the
government unavoidable. The course adopted to prevent the coming of the
priests was a merciful one, for it was supposed that they would not
venture into England at the peril of their lives: it was also a
reasonable one, since no sovereign was ever known to permit men to
reside in his dominions, who denied that he was the lawful prince, and
who endeavoured to withdraw his subjects from their allegiance, or stir
them up to rebellion. As early even as the reign of Edward I., to bring
in a bull from Rome was adjudged to be treason[3].

    [Footnote 3: By the 27th Elizabeth, c. 2, it was enacted,
    “Because Jesuits, seminary priests, or other priests came over
    into this realm of England, of purpose, as it hath appeared by
    sundry of their own examinations and confessions,—not only to
    withdraw her highness’s subjects from their due obedience, but
    also to stir up and move sedition, rebellion and open
    hostility—to the utter ruin, desolation, and overthrow of the
    whole realm, if the same be not the sooner by some good means
    foreseen and prevented, that it shall not be lawful for any
    Jesuit, seminary priest, or other such priest—being born within
    this realm—ordained by any authority derived from the see of
    Rome, to come into, be, or remain in, any part of this realm:
    and if he do, that then every such offence shall be taken and
    adjudged to be high treason, and every person so offending shall
    for his offence be adjudged a traitor.” This statute was
    rendered necessary by the treasonable practices of the priests.
    Had they not been engaged in such practices, the statute never
    would have been devised. The only way, in which it can be said,
    that such priests suffered for religion is this, namely, _that
    their religion led them into treason_; but this would be to
    charge all their sufferings upon the church of Rome herself,
    which is indeed the fact, though Romanists will not admit it.]

The next year a similar plot, which was devised by an Englishman of the
name of Moody, was brought to light. All these attempts were directed
against Elizabeth herself; and though Englishmen were the traitors, who
engaged to carry the plots into execution, yet they were encouraged in
their work, and supported both by the pope and the king of Spain. The
intention of the papal party was to dethrone Elizabeth, and seat Mary,
queen of Scots, on the throne. No one will justify Elizabeth in taking
the life of Mary: but it may be observed that if no attempts had been
made against the queen’s life, and if the court of Rome had acted justly
and honourably, the ministers of Elizabeth would never have recommended
the execution of that unfortunate queen. Her death must be attributed to
Romish principles, and to the papal attacks on the Protestant

    [Footnote 4: At this time Cardinal Allen, an Englishman,
    published a defence of Stanley’s treason, maintaining that in
    consequence of the queen’s excommunication and heresy, it was
    not only lawful, but a duty to deprive her of the kingdom.]

The year 1588 is memorable in English history for the defeat of the
_Spanish Armada_, impiously called the _Invincible Armada_. Several
years were occupied in its preparation; and the enemies of England
expected to overwhelm the country by one stroke. At this time the pope
issued another bull against the queen, in which it was pretended that
she was deprived of her royal dignity and kingdom, while her subjects
were absolved from their allegiance. The same document commands all
Englishmen to unite with the Spaniards on their landing, and to submit
themselves to the Spanish general. Ample rewards also are promised to
any who shall deliver the _proscribed woman_, as she is termed, into the
hands of the papal party; while a full pardon was granted to all who
should engage in the enterprise. It was determined that King Philip
should hold the kingdom _in fee_ from the pope. To accomplish their
purpose, the Armada was fitted out.

Though King Philip was the individual, by whom the Armada was fitted
out, yet he was encouraged in the designed invasion by the pope as well
as by the English fugitives on the Continent, headed by Sir William
Stanley. The war with Portugal had, for some years, prevented Philip
from bending all his energies towards the conquest of England. Being
successful in his attempts on his neighbours, and also in the East
Indies, it was argued by his flatterers that equal success would attend
his efforts against England. Nor was another argument forgotten as a
spur to his diligence, namely, that the conquest of England, with the
consequent re-establishment of popery, would be an acceptable service to
God, who had given him his great success against his enemies, and that
no action could be more meritorious. It is stated that a hundred _Monks_
and _Jesuits_ accompanied the expedition; while Cardinal Allen, an
Englishman, was appointed superintendent of ecclesiastical affairs
throughout England. After having suffered much from the fire of the
English fleet, as well as from the violence of the tempests, many of
their ships being disabled, it was determined to attempt to return home
through the Northern Ocean. At this time the powder of the English fleet
was almost exhausted; so that the departure of the Spanish vessels, at
this juncture, must be regarded as an interposition of divine providence
in favour of our country. Many of the vessels which thus escaped from
the English fleet, never reached the coast of Spain, being wrecked in
different places. Elizabeth displayed a most magnanimous spirit during
the time that the Armada was hovering around our coasts. She addressed
the army in terms calculated to inspire them with confidence, and to
endear them to her person. A solemn fast had been observed when the
danger threatened; and when the deliverance of the country was manifest,
a solemn thanksgiving was offered up in St. Paul’s Cathedral on the 8th
of September, when some of the Spanish ensigns lately taken were hung
about the church. On Sunday, September 24th, the queen herself proceeded
to St. Paul’s, and on arriving at the west door, she knelt down within
the church, and in an audible voice praised God as her only defender
against her enemies. It was further ordered that the 19th of November
should be observed as a day of thanksgiving throughout the country;
which day was annually commemorated during the reign of Elizabeth[5].

    [Footnote 5: Several medals were stamped in commemoration of the
    defeat. One bore this inscription, under a fleet flying with
    full sails, _Venit, vidit, fugit_: another the following, _Dux
    Fœmina facti_. Several medal were also stamped in the Low

In 1590, Urban VII. became pope. He was succeeded in a very brief space
by Gregory XIV., who also was speedily succeeded by Innocent IX. Nor did
Innocent occupy the papal chair for any lengthened period. In
consequence of the defeat of the _Armada_, and also of the rapid changes
in the holy see, three popes having died within the space of eighteen
months, there was a slight cessation from the attempts against
Elizabeth. In 1592, Clement VIII. was elevated to the popedom: and under
his auspices there was a revival of the previous practices, which had
not been given up, but merely relinquished for a season. During the
years 1592, 1593, and 1594, several persons were commissioned by the
court of Rome to raise rebellions in England, and to poison or
assassinate the queen. The watchful eye of providence, however, was
extended over the country and the queen. Every plot was discovered;
every hostile design failed; and the only sufferers were the traitors

Patrick Cullen received absolution and the sacrament, A.D. 1592, from
the Jesuit Holt, by whom it was determined to be a meritorious deed to
kill the queen; and in 1594, Williams and York came over to England for
the same purpose, having first received the sacrament in the Jesuits’
college. In the year 1597, Squire came over from Spain with the same
object in view, namely, the assassination of the queen; he also was
instigated by Walpole, a _Jesuit_, from whom he received the sacrament
under a promise to put the project in execution, and then conceal the
deed. It was observed by Sir Edward Coke, that since the Jesuits set
foot in England, there never passed four years without a pernicious

About this time the English fleet obtained a most decisive victory over
the Spanish. In 1598, Philip of Spain, the great enemy of England, was
removed by death from that scene, in which he had, for so many years,
acted so conspicuous, yet inglorious a part.

In 1599 and 1600, a rebellion was headed in Ireland by Tir Owen. This
rebel chief was, as usual, encouraged by the pope, who sent him a plume
of feathers as a token of his favour.

In 1603, the queen died in peace. From the preceding abstract it will
appear, that from the year 1570 to 1600, Queen Elizabeth and the
Protestant religion were constantly exposed to the machinations of the
active partisans of the Roman see, who were encouraged by the pope
himself. Every pontiff pursued the same course. There was a settled
purpose at Rome, and, indeed, throughout the whole Romish confederacy,
to dethrone Elizabeth and overturn the Anglican church; nor is it a
libel on the church of Rome to say, that in all these proceedings, she
acted on recognised principles—principles which had received the solemn
sanction of her councils. To root out heresy, by any means within their
reach, was deemed, or at all events was asserted to be a sacred duty
incumbent on all the members of the church of Rome. The doctrine may be
denied in the present day, when times and circumstances do not permit of
its being carried into practice; but, unquestionably, it was not merely
believed as an article of faith in the days of Elizabeth, for we have
seen that the attempt was made to enforce the bull which was issued
against the queen.

James I. succeeded to the throne at a period when the eyes of Romanists
were fastened on England as their prey. During the latter years of
Elizabeth, the emissaries of Rome were comparatively quiet, in the hope
that James, from a feeling of filial reverence towards the memory of his
unfortunate mother, would not be unfavourably disposed towards their
church. It is certain, however, that a plot was in agitation before the
death of Elizabeth, being managed by some of those individuals who were
impatient of waiting the course of events on the queen’s death. The
confessions and examinations of the conspirators show that the powder
plot was partly contrived before James’s accession. Several of their
number went into Spain to stir up the Spanish court against the queen,
and to request a foreign army for the subjugation of England. The death
of Elizabeth took place while those proceedings were going forward on
the Continent, and was the means of suspending the operations of the
conspirators for a season. As soon as James’s accession was known, the
king of Spain endeavoured to enter into a negociation for peace, so that
the conspirators were not at this time openly favoured by that monarch.
It was supposed that some concessions might be obtained from James in
favour of his Roman Catholic subjects: but in a very short space the
leaders of the conspiracy discovered, that they were not likely to gain
much by negociation. Unquestionably the Romanist party in England
endeavoured to induce the King of Spain to attempt an invasion of the
country: and it is equally certain, that their solicitations would have
been taken into serious consideration if Queen Elizabeth had not died.
Had the project of invasion been realised, the conspirators would not
have proceeded to execute the Gunpowder Plot.

On the accession of James, therefore, there was a calm: but it was
deceptive: it was only the calm before the storm; and to the eye of the
careful observer, it indicated any thing but prosperity and
tranquillity. It was evident to most men of reflection, that the storm
was gathering: nay, there were indications of its approach, though no
one knew how or where it would burst forth. The rolling of the thunder
was, as it were, heard in the distance, though whether it would approach
nearer or pass away altogether, was a question which no one could

I have glanced at the various treasons with which the whole reign of
Elizabeth was so pregnant: and the principles from which they flowed
have also been slightly alluded to, namely, the principles of the church
of Rome respecting the punishment of heresy, and the keeping faith with
heretics. The doctrine of the church of Rome on this subject, as
expounded by the Jesuits, and especially by Parsons, who at this period
was one of the prime movers of every conspiracy against the English
sovereign, was this, namely, that if any prince should turn aside from
the church of Rome, he would forfeit his royal power; and that this
result would follow from the law itself, both human and divine, even
before any sentence was passed upon him by the supreme pastor or judge.
This doctrine was a consequence of the papal supremacy. The doctrine of
the supremacy is this—that the bishops of Rome, as successors of St.
Peter, have authority, derived to them from Christ himself, over all
churches, and kingdoms, and princes; that, in consequence of this power,
they may depose kings and absolve their subjects from their allegiance,
bestowing the kingdom of the offender on another; that excommunicated
princes are not to be obeyed; and that, to rise in arms against them, or
to put them to death, is not only lawful, but meritorious. Acting on
these principles, Clement VIII. issued certain bulls, in which he called
upon all members of the church of Rome to use their exertions for the
purpose of preventing the accession of James, whenever Queen Elizabeth
should depart this life.

Under such circumstances was James I. called to the throne. The papal
party were resolved on the execution of their designs: and the pope and
the king of Spain were so far implicated, that they were fully aware, if
not of the particular nature of the intended plot, yet that certain
schemes would be resorted to for the accomplishment of the grand object,
which was the subjugation of England to the papal yoke. Had the
conspirators been successful, they would have been furnished with all
necessary supplies for their purpose by the court of Rome, and those
states which were in alliance with the holy see. Such a combination
could not have been defeated by human means, especially as the plot was
carried on with the utmost secresy: but the watchful eye of divine
providence was fixed on the country, and the designs of its enemies, as
will be shown in this narrative, were mercifully frustrated. The bulls
above alluded to were to be kept secret as long as the queen survived.
They were addressed to the clergy, the nobility, and the commons, who
were exhorted not to receive any sovereign whose accession would not be
agreeable to the pope. The reasons assigned by his holiness for
recommending such a course, were the honour of God, the restoration of
the true religion, and the salvation of immortal souls. The Cardinal
D’Ossat, to whom they were at first entrusted, wrote to King James on
the subject, expressing a hope that he would openly profess the religion
of his mother. It will be seen, in a subsequent chapter, that these
bulls were committed to Garnet, who confessed that they had been in his
possession, and by whom they were destroyed when it was found to be
impossible to prevent James from succeeding to the English throne.

Never, perhaps, in the history of the world was a sovereign delivered
from more conspiracies than Queen Elizabeth. The efforts of her enemies
were unceasingly directed to one object, and that object was the queen’s
death. Not only were private individuals instigated to attempt her
destruction, but the most extensive confederacies were entered into by
almost all the papal sovereigns of Europe.

A remarkable circumstance is related of the hopes and intentions of the
Spaniards, in the event of success in the _Armada_. A Spanish officer,
who was taken prisoner, was examined before the privy council. He
confessed that their object in coming was to subjugate the nation to the
yoke of Spain, and the church to that of the pope. He was asked by some
of the lords what they intended to do with the _Catholics_, as some must
necessarily have fallen: to which question he promptly replied, that
they meant to send them directly to _heaven_, even as they should have
sent the _heretics_ to _hell_. This statement rests on the authority of
the chaplain to the army. It was revealed to him in order that he might
publish it the next day, in his sermon, to the troops. He states, that
by commandment of the council he did publish it to the army. In those
days, there were no _newspapers_: nor was it then so easy to communicate
intelligence by _placards_ or _bills_. We find, therefore, that the
pulpit was often made a vehicle for publishing the common news of the
day. At a subsequent period, during the commotions between Charles I.
and his Parliament, when the latter obtained possession of most of the
pulpits, they were the only channels through which many of the people
were made acquainted with the progress of the war. Whatever had occurred
during the week was published to the people, from the pulpit, on the

    [Footnote 6: For a description of the proceedings of the
    Parliamentary divines in publishing the _news_ of the day from
    the pulpits during the civil war, the reader is referred to my
    former work, _A History of the English Episcopacy from 1640 to

King James, therefore, succeeded to the English crown at a period when
the pope and the papal sovereigns entertained the most sanguine hopes of
re-establishing popery in this country, and when numbers of Jesuits and
their disciples were ready to execute any treason which might be



The persons actually engaged in this atrocious deed were few in number:
at the outset, indeed, very few: but the design was gradually revealed
to others, though even when the discovery actually took place, the
number was comparatively small. That there was a general belief among
the Romanist body, that some great and effective blow would be struck,
is a fact which I need not attempt to prove, since it is so well known,
that no doubt can be entertained on the subject: but how the design was
to be carried into effect was a secret to the great body of the Roman
Catholics. The conspirators were thirteen in number. Their names were as

  Robert Catesby,
  Robert Winter,
  Thomas Percy,
  Thomas Winter,
  John Wright,
  Christopher Wright,
  Everard Digby, Knt.,
  Ambrose Rookwood,
  Francis Tresham,
  John Grant,
  Robert Keys,
  Guy Fawkes,
  And Bates, the servant of Catesby.

Of this number, five only were engaged in the plot at its commencement,
the rest being associated with them during its progress. Several of them
took no active part in the mine; they were, however, in the secret, and
furnished the money necessary to carry on the work. Three Jesuits, as
will appear in the narrative, were also privy to the design, and
counselled and encouraged the conspirators. They were Garnet, Gerrard,
and Tesmond, _alias_ Greenway. I shall endeavour to place before the
reader such particulars as I have been able to collect respecting all
these individuals, before I enter upon the narrative of the plot.


Catesby was the contriver of the conspiracy[7]. He was a native of
Leicestershire: a man of family and property, and of such persuasive
eloquence, that he induced several of the conspirators to comply, who
otherwise, in all probability, would not have been implicated in the
treason. Some of them admitted, that it was not so much their conviction
of the justice of the cause that led them to engage in the business, as
the wily eloquence of Catesby. He was descended from the celebrated
minister of Richard III. Little, however, is known of him beyond the
part which he acted in the Gunpowder Treason. It is evident that he was
a man of considerable abilities; but being a bigot to the principles of
the church of Rome, he was a fit instrument for the execution of any
plot, however horrible. Whether he was influenced by the Jesuits, or
whether prompted to undertake the deed by his own feelings on the
subject of popery, is a question of no easy solution, since, in
consequence of his death, when the rest of his companions were taken, no
confession was given to the world, which would probably have been the
case, if he had been brought to trial with the other conspirators. He
was the only layman with whom the Jesuit Garnet would confer on the
subject of the plot.

    [Footnote 7: In his youth he was entirely devoted to
    dissipation; but in 1598, his zeal for the church of Rome was
    suddenly revived.]


This gentleman was nearly allied to the earl of Northumberland, by whom
he was elevated to the post of captain of the gentlemen pensioners. He
appears to have been a man of great violence of temper; and his conduct
proves him to have been a staunch bigot to popery. Catesby on some
occasions found it necessary to restrain his violence, lest his
indiscretion should mar the whole contrivance. On one occasion, he
offered to rush into the presence-chamber, and kill the king. He was
killed with Catesby, at Holbeach, shortly after the discovery of the


It appears that Winter had contemplated a departure from England
altogether, when Catesby, who had entered upon the plot, requested him
to quit the country, whither he had retired, till an opportunity should
offer of going to the Continent, and to come with all speed to London.
The scheme was proposed to Winter, who evinced no indisposition to enter
into the plot: on the contrary, he appears to have complied, with the
utmost readiness, with all Catesby’s plans. Soon after this interview he
went over to the Continent, to reveal the design to some influential
papists, with a view to ascertaining their opinions on the subject.
Winter appeared at his execution to be penitent; but no hesitation was
manifested by him at the first; nor does he appear to have entertained
any scruples during the progress of the conspiracy. In many respects, he
appears to have been an amiable man: but such principles as are
inculcated by the church of Rome, are calculated to quench all those
feelings of kindliness, which naturally exist in the human heart. The
breast of Thomas Winter was steeled by his principles against the
kindlier emotions of our common nature. It is related of him, that he
dreamt, not long before the discovery of the treason, “that he saw
steeples and churches stand awry, and within those churches strange and
unknown faces.” When he was taken in Staffordshire, an explosion of
gunpowder took place, and some of the conspirators were scorched, and
otherwise injured; at this time, his dream was recalled to his
remembrance, and he fancied that there was a resemblance between the
faces of the persons he had seen in his dream, and those of his
companions. The recollection of the dream appears to have made a strong
impression on him at the period when he was taken into custody.


This gentleman was the brother of the preceding, by whom he was drawn
into the conspiracy. Robert Winter was added to their number some time
after the mine had been commenced. The circumstance caused some distress
to Thomas Winter, who petitioned the court at his trial, that, as he had
been the cause of his brother’s ruin, his death might be considered as a
sufficient atonement to the law for both. Winter was taken in
Staffordshire, where he retreated after the discovery of the plot. For
some time, he was concealed in a house, whose occupant was a Roman
Catholic. The circumstance that led to his discovery was somewhat
singular. The cook was surprised at the number of dishes, which were
daily taken to his master’s room; he therefore, to satisfy his
curiosity, peeped through the keyhole, when he saw a person sitting with
his master. He was alarmed, both on their account, and on his own; but
his fears for his own safety being greater than his apprehensions for
Winter and his master, he determined to make a discovery to one of his
relations. This step was followed by their apprehension.


Fawkes was a soldier of fortune, who for some years was engaged in the
Spanish service. Little is known of his early life, except that he was a
native of the county of York, and received his education in the city of
York. The writer of the _Life of Bishop Morton_ informs us that the
bishop and Fawkes were schoolfellows together in that city. His
subsequent history to the period of the treason, is but imperfectly
known. He appears to have been a bold and daring adventurer, as well as
a gloomy bigot to the worst principles of popery; and was, in
consequence, deemed by Catesby to be a suitable instrument for his
purpose. His proceedings in the mine, as well as on the Continent, will
be noticed in the prosecution of the narrative.


John Wright was early engaged in the plot with Catesby. It was agreed
between these two individuals, Catesby and Wright, that an oath should
be administered to all who should engage in the conspiracy. The oath
will be given in the narrative. John Wright was killed in the struggle
with the sheriff, in Staffordshire, where most of the conspirators were
taken subsequent to the discovery of the plot.


This person was the brother of the preceding, by whom he was induced to
enter into the conspiracy. He appears, however, to have entered into the
business with as much zeal as any of the rest. He was the first to
discover the apprehension of Fawkes, on the morning of the Fifth of
November. His advice was, that each conspirator should betake himself to
flight in a different direction from any of his companions. Had this
advice been followed, several of them would probably have succeeded in
making their escape to the Continent. The conspirators, however, adopted
another course, which issued in their discomfiture in Staffordshire,
where Christopher Wright was also killed.


Bates was a servant, and the only one of the conspirators who did not
move in the rank of a gentleman. When the plot was concocting, he was
servant to Catesby, the leader in the treason. Catesby observed that his
actions were particularly noticed by his servant. The circumstance led
him to suspect, that Bates was in some measure acquainted with their
designs, or at all events, that he suspected that they had some grand
scheme in agitation. In the presence, therefore, of Thomas Winter,
Catesby asked him what he thought the business was, which was then in
contemplation. Bates replied, that he thought they were contriving some
dangerous matter, though he knew not what the particulars were. He was
again asked what he thought the business might be. He answered, that he
thought they intended some dangerous matter near the Parliament House,
because he had been sent to take a lodging near that place. Bates was
then induced to take an oath of secresy; when the particulars were made
known to him. It was then stated that he must receive the sacrament, as
a pledge that he would not reveal the matter. With this view, he went to
confession to _Tesmond_ the _Jesuit_, telling him that he was to conceal
a dangerous matter, which had been revealed to him by his master, and
Thomas Winter, and which he feared was unlawful. He then disclosed the
whole plot to the Jesuit, desiring his counsel in the business. Tesmond
charged him to keep the matter strictly secret, adding, that he was
engaged in a good cause, and that it was not sinful to conceal the plot.
Bates then received absolution and the sacrament, in company with
Catesby and Winter. Such were the means used to draw Bates into the


Tresham was also engaged in the plot at an early period. He was not one
of those with whom it originated; but it was revealed to him when the
parties were in want of money, to enable them to carry on their scheme.
He offered to contribute 2000_l._ towards the grand object. He died in
the Tower before the trial of his companions.


Rookwood was a man of fortune, and, until he became implicated in this
plot, of reputation. He was not one of the original contrivers of the
treason, but was drawn into it by a strong affection for Catesby, who
appears to have exercised over him a most extraordinary influence.


Grant was a resident at Coventry, and, like Tresham and Rookwood, did
not labour in the mine, but was made acquainted with the scheme after it
had been concocted. Grant seized upon several horses on the morning of
the 6th of November, supposing that the explosion had taken place, with
a view to the seizure of the Princess Elizabeth, then on a visit in the
neighbourhood. He was taken with the other conspirators in


Little is known of this individual: but according to his own account at
his trial, his circumstances had always been desperate, as well as his
character. Such a man was, therefore, ready for any enterprise, however
criminal. Fuller relates the following circumstance, which I give in his
own quaint language. “A few days before the fatal blow should be given,
Keies being in Tickmarsh, in Northamptonshire, at his brother-in-law’s
house, Mr. Gilbert Pickering, a Protestant, he suddenly whipped out his
sword, and in merriment made many offers therewith at the heads, necks,
and sides, of several gentlemen and ladies then in his company: it was
then taken for a mere frolic, and so passed accordingly: but afterward,
when the treason was discovered, such as remembered his gestures,
thought he practised what he intended to do when the plot should take
effect: that is, to hack and hew, kill and destroy, all eminent persons
of a different religion from himself.”


This gentleman was descended from an ancient family, resident in
Rutlandshire. His education was entirely directed by priests of the
church of Rome, his father dying when he was only eleven years of age.
He was introduced to the court of Elizabeth at an early period of his
life; and soon after the accession of King James was knighted by his
majesty. Sir Everard was made acquainted with the plot during its
progress, when the early and original conspirators found themselves in
want of money. He promised to furnish 1500_l._ He was taken after the
discovery and was executed in London.


Three Jesuits, Garnet, Gerard, and Tesmond, were implicated in this
conspiracy: the two latter escaped to Rome, Garnet alone was taken and
executed. It is remarked by Fuller, “A treason without a _Jesuit_, or
one of _Jesuited principles_, therein, is like a drie wall, without
either lime or mortar; Gerard must be the cement, with the sacrament of
secrecie to join them together: Garnet and Tesmond, (whelps of the same
litter,) commended and encouraged the designe[8].” Garnet received his
early education in Winchester school, when Bishop Bilson was warden. It
is said that he was engaged in a conspiracy among the boys, whose design
was to cut off the right hand of their master. At this time Garnet was
at the head of the school. His conduct in other respects seems to have
been so immoral, that he was advised not to offer himself as a candidate
for a scholarship at New College. He quitted Winchester for Rome, where
he enrolled himself in the society of the Jesuits. At length he was made
the superior of his English brethren, in which character he returned
into England, to promote a rebellion against Queen Elizabeth. Other
particulars respecting his subsequent career will appear in the

    [Footnote 8: Book x. 34.]

Thus have I endeavoured to give a brief sketch of the actors in this
dark transaction. In reading the pages of history, we feel a natural
desire to know something of the persons, whose exploits are recorded.
The particulars, which I have given in this chapter, are such as could
not so well have been stated in the narrative. All other matters,
however, relative to any of the preceding individuals will be woven with
the history, on which I am now about to enter.

Other individuals were taken and executed for treason, in consequence of
their joining in the conspiracy; but the parties mentioned in the
preceding sketch were the only persons, who were actually implicated in
the plot by any decided acts. It is pretty evident, too, that very few
persons, besides those actually engaged, were fully acquainted with the
particulars of the plot. It was the policy of the conspirators to reveal
the precise nature of the design to as few as possible, feeling assured
that the smaller the number of actual traitors the less was the risk of
discovery. They were also aware, that all, or, at all events, most of
the Roman Catholics would join them, when the design was carried into
execution. The _Jesuits_, who were privy to the plot, intimated to the
great body of the Romanists, that some great design was in agitation,
without specifying particulars. The actual plot, therefore, was confined
to a very few persons; but that a plot of some kind was going forward
was believed by the great body of the Roman Catholic population
throughout the country.



Enough has been detailed in the first chapter to show, that it was the
aim of the Romanists, throughout the reign of Elizabeth, to overturn the
church, and to assassinate the queen. On James’s accession the same
measures were resorted to by the papal party, while the plots for the
destruction of Protestantism were as frequent as ever. In tracing the
origin of the powder plot it is necessary to look back to the close of
the reign of Elizabeth. In December, 1601, Garnet, Catesby, and Tresham
sent Thomas Winter into Spain, with a view to obtaining assistance from
the Spanish monarch against England. It was always found in the
projected invasions of England, that one of the chief difficulties was
the transportation of horses. To obviate this difficulty, therefore, the
Roman Catholics of England, or Winter in their name, engaged to provide
1500 or 2000 horses for the use of the Spanish troops on their landing
on our shores. At this time one of the English Jesuits was resident in
Madrid; and by this man Winter was introduced to one of the secretaries
of state, by whom he was assured that the king was anxious to undertake
any enterprise against England. The king of Spain further promised the
sum of one hundred thousand crowns, to be devoted to this special
service, and that he would effect a landing on the shores of England
during the next spring. Winter returned home at the end of the year, and
communicated his intelligence to Garnet, Catesby, and Tresham. The death
of the queen took place soon after, when Christopher Wright was sent
over into Spain by Garnet, for the purpose of conveying intelligence of
the queen’s death, and also for the furtherance of the negotiation,
which had been already entered into during the previous year. Fawkes
also arrived in Spain soon after Wright. He had been sent from Brussels
by Sir William Stanley and Hugh Owen, two Englishmen, who had been
concerned in most of the treasons against Elizabeth.

Some of the Jesuits were concerned in all the treasons to which I have
already alluded; and the gunpowder treason was managed by the same
party, the actors being either Jesuits, or the disciples of Jesuits.
Jesuits were their directors, their confessors, and their governors. “I
never yet knew a treason without a Romish priest,” said Sir Edward Coke,
at the trial of the conspirators; and on Garnet’s trial he declares,
“Since the Jesuits set foot in this land, there never passed four years
without a most pestilent and pernicious treason, tending to the
subversion of the whole state.” Shortly before the death of Elizabeth,
and while the negotiations just mentioned were going forward in Spain,
the pope, Clement VIII., addressed to the English Romanists the bulls to
which I have already referred in a former chapter; by which they were
instructed to oppose any one who should claim the crown after
Elizabeth’s death, unless he would promise not merely to tolerate the
Roman Catholic faith, but to promote it by all means in his power. These
bulls were to be executed, _“Quandocunque contingeret miseram illam
fœminam ex hac vitâ excedere,”_—whenever it should happen that that
miserable woman should depart this life. On James’s accession,
therefore, many of the Romanists were tampered with by the Jesuits, and
persuaded not to render obedience to his majesty, as being a heretic.
They were told by the Jesuits that they ought even to submit to death
rather than obey a heretic. King James was, however, quietly seated on
the throne, notwithstanding the secret practices of the Jesuits, backed
as they were by the king of Spain and the pope. As it was dangerous to
keep the two bulls in his possession, Garnet committed them to the
flames after James’s accession. Now it is altogether manifest, that the
treason originated in these bulls of Pope Clement VIII.; for the
conspirators argued, when the lawfulness of the undertaking was
discussed, that if it was lawful to prevent James from possessing the
throne, it was equally so to remove him though he had taken possession.
I see not how this argument can be overturned by the Romanists; or how
they can clear the rulers of their church of that day of the guilt of
that dark transaction.

The circumstances of the country, therefore, at the time of James’s
accession were very peculiar. The pope had issued his bulls to prevent
any but a papist from succeeding Queen Elizabeth; the king of Spain had
promised assistance to the English Romanists; and Garnet, with some
other Jesuits, and Catesby and his companions, were resolved to execute
the designs of his holiness. It was under such circumstances that the
plot was contrived. The king of Spain, however, refused to contribute
money or to send troops when he heard of James’s accession, with whom he
wished to enter into a peace, and to whom he sent commissioners for that
purpose. The disappointment of their hopes in obtaining assistance from
Spain, led the conspirators, Catesby, and his brethren, to devise some
other means, by which their object might be obtained. Frequent meetings
took place; and various plans were considered and then relinquished. At
length it was determined to undermine the parliament house, and destroy
the king by means of gunpowder. It appears that Thomas Winter had some
misgivings, lest the church of Rome should suffer in the estimation of
the public if the plot should be defeated. Catesby replied, that the
nature of the disease required a very sharp remedy. Winter’s scruples
were removed, and he entered into the project with all his energies.
Still Winter started difficulties, which Catesby was most expert at
removing. He objected the difficulty of procuring a place, from which
they might commence their labours for the mine; but Catesby encouraged
him by proposing to make the attempt, and that, if it failed, they might
desist from any thing of the kind afterwards.

It seems that Catesby conceived the plan during the spring, A.D. 1603.
Thomas Winter states that he was requested to meet him in town; where,
after receiving a second letter, he found him with John Wright. At this
meeting they conversed on the necessity incumbent on them of doing
something for the cause of their religion and country; for these men,
forsooth, professed to be patriots. Winter expressed his readiness to
hazard his life in the cause; and Catesby made known his project. Thomas
Winter then went to the Continent to meet Fawkes, to whom he was to make
known the fact, that a plot was in agitation. They met and returned to
England the following spring, when they were joined by Catesby, Percy,
and Wright. At one of these meetings Percy came into the room and said,
“Shall we always, gentlemen, talk, and never do any thing?” Catesby took
Percy aside for a few minutes. Percy proposed to kill the king; but
Catesby said, “_No, Tom_, thou shalt not adventure thy life to so small
a purpose.” At this time the plan was partially concocted by Catesby,
but was revealed only to Winter. Catesby and Winter agreed that an oath
of secresy should be administered before the plot was fully disclosed to
their companions; who, though they were all anxious to enter upon any
project, however desperate, were not yet acquainted with the plan which
had been devised by Catesby.

Though Winter and Fawkes had met on the Continent, and had travelled
together to England, yet it does not appear that the latter was made at
that time acquainted with the treason. He came to England with Winter,
with a view to the contrivance of a plot, but with the particular scheme
projected by Catesby he was not acquainted, until after his return from
the Continent. He was a reckless character, and ready to join in any
desperate enterprise. Fawkes, in his own confession, declares, that the
matter was at first broken to him in a general way by Winter. The
parties were now five in number, namely, Catesby, Fawkes, Percy, Thomas
Winter, and John Wright. According to agreement they all met together in
a room near St. Clement’s church, in the Strand. Here they administered
an oath of secresy to each other on a Primer. When the oath had been
taken, they all went into the next room, in which was the Jesuit Gerard,
from whom, after they had heard mass, they received the sacrament.
Gerard was probably acquainted with all the particulars of the plot. He
was aware of the designs and intentions of the conspirators; for he
waited in the room for the express purpose of uniting them together into
a common bond for treasonable purposes. As soon as these ceremonies had
been passed through, Catesby and Winter unfolded to the rest the plan
which had been devised; and observed that the oath had been taken, in
order that the plot might be concealed. Fawkes and the rest fully
approved of all that had been done, entering into the plot with the
utmost alacrity. In the spring of 1604, therefore, the plot was
concocted. The oath was couched in the following terms:—

“You shall swear by the blessed Trinity, and by the sacrament you now
purpose to receive, never to disclose, directly nor 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.”

The next point was to secure a house near the House of Lords, in which
the mine might be commenced. Fortune, in this respect, appeared to
favour them, for during Winter’s absence on the Continent, Catesby had
heard that a particular house adjoining the House of Lords might
probably be secured. Inquiries were made on the subject, when it was
discovered to be in the occupation of a person named Ferris, who rented
it of one of the officers of the House of Lords, by whom some of the
rooms were occasionally used for parliamentary business. Percy was
despatched by Catesby on the business, and, after some difficulty, he
succeeded in becoming tenant to Winyard, the officer, as Ferris had
previously been. Fawkes assumed the character of Percy’s servant, the
keys of the house being committed to his keeping. The name under which
he now went was Johnson. They also hired another house, in Lambeth, for
the purpose of stowing away the gunpowder and the wood, previous to its
being deposited in the mine. The house was one in which Catesby often
lodged. Their object, in depositing their materials on that side of the
river, was to avoid detection, for they were fearful lest, by constantly
entering the house in Westminster, the suspicion of some of the
inhabitants might be awakened. It was at this period that Keys was
admitted into the secret, and to him was committed the charge of the
house in Lambeth. During these proceedings the parliament was adjourned
to the ensuing February, an event which afforded abundance of time for
their project; and therefore they agreed to quit London for a season,
intending to return sufficiently early for the completion of the work
before the opening of the session. The conspirators departed in
different directions, in order to avoid suspicion. It was about a month
before the commencement of Michaelmas term that the parties quitted
London. About the beginning of the term, Fawkes and Winter met Catesby.
They all agreed that it was time to commence their operations. When the
parties arrived in London, they were rather staggered by the discovery,
that the Scottish lords were appointed to assemble in Percy’s house, to
discuss the question of the union of the two kingdoms. In consequence of
this occupancy, they were not able to begin the mine until the 11th of
December, 1604. Late at night they entered upon the work of darkness!
The powder had already been procured from Flanders, and deposited in the
house at Lambeth. Not only did they provide themselves with the
necessary tools for excavation, but they took in with them a stock of
provisions, consisting of biscuits and baked meats, so that they might
not be under the necessity of sending out to the adjoining shops for
provisions, and thereby excite suspicion.

Now it must be remembered, that these conspirators were quite
unaccustomed to laborious employments: yet their mistaken zeal in the
cause of popery, which they seem to have regarded as the truth, induced
them to apply themselves to the task with unceasing energy. They
continued at their labour from the 11th of December until Christmas eve,
without any intermission. Nor did they appear in the streets until that
day. At this time they had conducted the mine under an entry close to
the wall of the parliament house, under-propping the earth, as they
proceeded, with wood. Fawkes, as being the least known of the party,
acted as sentinel to give the alarm in the event of danger. In his own
confession, Fawkes acknowledges, “I stood as sentinel, to descrie any
man that came near, whereof I gave them warning, and so they ceased
until I gave notice again to proceed.” The object in placing Fawkes as
sentinel was this, namely, that they might cease from their labour as
any one approached, lest the noise should be heard and a discovery

Winter, whose confession was very full and minute, informs us that,
during the progress of the work, they held many conversations relative
to the steps to be taken after the execution of the deed. They hoped
that the king and the assembled lords would fall a sacrifice in the
explosion: but then there were the prince of Wales and the duke of York,
and how were they to be despatched? It was supposed that the prince
might attend the king, and share in the same fate: and Percy, who all
along had evinced great boldness, undertook to secure the duke. Percy
held an office near the court, and was acquainted with several of those
who were employed in the royal household. He, therefore, undertook to
enter the chamber, after the blow was struck, and, having placed others
at the doors, to secure the young prince. It was also determined that
the king’s daughter Elizabeth, who subsequently became queen of Bohemia,
and from whom the house of Hanover is descended, she being the mother of
the Princess Sophia, and grandmother of George I., should be secured by
some of their party in the country. The princess was, at this time, with
Lord Harrington, in the county of Warwick, not very distant from
Catesby’s house. It was arranged, therefore, that the Roman Catholics of
that neighbourhood should assemble, under the pretence of a
hunting-match upon Dunsmore Heath, and that the princess should be
seized during the confusion that would be consequent on the discovery of
the plot.

Money and horses were also necessary: and the conspirators, at this
stage of their proceedings, did not neglect to make provision respecting
both. These and other subjects were discussed in the intervals of
relaxation from their laborious employment in the mine.

Another very important topic was also introduced during these secret
conversations: it related to the lords whom they should endeavour to
save from the general destruction. It was determined that they should
prevent as many of the Roman Catholic lords as possible from attending
the house on that occasion; but that the rest must necessarily perish
with the great body of the peers.

It was also debated whether they should reveal the project to any
foreign princes. A difficulty here stared them in the face, namely, that
they could not enjoin secresy by a solemn oath, as they had done among
themselves: nor were they certain that the continental princes would
approve of their design. They had little hope from Spain, because the
king was too slow in his preparations, and was ready to enter into
negotiations with James: France was too near, and could not safely be
trusted. Such were their views of France and Spain.

These discussions took place while they were engaged in the mine. At
this period parliament was again adjourned until the _Fifth_ of October;
on which account the conspirators ceased from their operations,
intending to commence their labours sufficiently early to enable them to
bring the matter to a completion, previous to the period fixed for the
opening of the session. Early in the ensuing spring, they removed the
powder which had been stowed in the house at Lambeth, into Percy’s
residence. Their labours were now resumed with redoubled energy. The
foundation wall of the House of Lords was nine feet thick, so that their
progress was necessarily very slow. They were obliged to chisel out the
stones and the mortar; the wall being exceedingly hard, they advanced
only about a foot in a week. These labours were continued during a
fortnight, when they deemed it necessary to admit some others into their
secret, to share with them in their toils. It was at this period that
Christopher Wright and Robert Winter were admitted into their party. The
same process was adopted in the admission of these men as had been
resorted to in the first instance: they were sworn to secresy, and the
oath was confirmed by receiving the sacrament. With this accession to
their strength, they continued in the mine until Easter, at which time
they had advanced about half way through the stone wall. While occupied
in their work, they were one day suddenly alarmed by a noise, which
seemed to proceed from no distant spot. The conspirators had provided
themselves with weapons, intending, if they were discovered, to sell
their lives as dearly as possible. These weapons were now grasped by the
whole party; and Fawkes was sent out in order to discover the cause of
the noise. He soon returned to his companions, whose fears were banished
by his report. Fawkes discovered that the sound proceeded from a cellar,
which had been used for coals, and which was under the House of Lords.
The coals were now selling off, the person who had rented the cellar
being about to quit; and the noise, which had alarmed them, was
occasioned by the falling down and the removal of these coals. This
cellar was most convenient for their purpose: for it was exactly under
the throne. The grand object, therefore, was now to secure it. Fawkes
soon ascertained that it was to be let. Percy immediately hired it,
pretending that he wished to use it as a coal cellar for his adjoining

Thus far they appeared to prosper in their dark enterprise. The mine was
now relinquished; and it was resolved to deposit the powder in the
cellar. Their labours were discontinued; and all their energies were
exerted in making arrangements to secure the success of their design[9].

    [Footnote 9: “In piercing through the wall nine foot thick,”
    says Fuller, “they erroneously conceived that they thereby hewed
    forth their own way to heaven. But they digged more with their
    _silver_ in an hour, than with their _iron_ in many daies;
    namely, when discovering a cellar hard by, they hired the same,
    and the pioneers saved much of their pains by the advantage
    thereof.”—b. x. p. 35. They were led to believe, from this
    circumstance, that God was evidently favourable to their

Hitherto Catesby had himself borne the expenses of the treasonable
undertaking; but his resources were insufficient for the charge of
maintaining the party, for the rent of several houses, and for the
purchase of the materials with which the scheme was to be carried into
effect. It was deemed necessary, therefore, that some monied person or
persons should be made acquainted with the design, in order that
pecuniary aid might be procured: and Catesby proposed that he and Percy,
and another of the conspirators, should be permitted to disclose their
secret to such persons as they, in their discretion, might deem
desirable. The proposition was agreed to by the whole party, who now
amounted to seven in number. This plan was adopted, because the parties
thought, that several of the wealthy Romanists would be willing to
contribute pecuniary aid, though they might be unwilling to disclose
their names to the whole number of the conspirators. Having made this
arrangement, Fawkes was employed in depositing a large quantity of
powder and wood in the cellar which had recently been taken. The house
was cleared of all those things which might have awakened suspicion,
while everything was placed in the cellar,—a place which no one

They began now to contemplate making another trial of their friends on
the Continent. Catesby proposed that Fawkes should go over, assigning
two reasons for his absence; _first_, that he might not be seen in
England for a time; and _secondly_, that he might acquaint Sir William
Stanley and Mr. Owen with their proceedings. It was, however, determined
that the same oath of secresy should be administered to these two

Fawkes quitted England about Easter. Stanley was absent from Brussels,
to which place Fawkes had repaired; but he made the matter known to
Owen, who cordially entered into the project. In the month of August,
Fawkes again returned to England.

About the same time, Catesby and Percy met in the city of Bath, for the
purpose of calling in others to render pecuniary assistance agreeably to
their previous determination. It was at this stage of the plot, that Sir
Everard Digby and Francis Tresham were made acquainted with the design.
Neither of these gentlemen scrupled to enter into the plot. It was a
most extraordinary thing, that gentlemen, otherwise of strict integrity,
should have been so influenced by their religious views, as to concur in
such a design without hesitation, which seems to have been the case. Sir
Everard Digby engaged to furnish 1500_l._, and Mr. Tresham 2000_l._,
towards the accomplishment of the object. Percy also promised to obtain
as large a sum as possible from the rents of the earl of Northumberland.
Rookwood and Grant were made acquainted with the plot about the same
time; so that the number of the conspirators was now completed. These
gentlemen, however, never entered the mine: they were merely privy to
the treason, and promoted it by rendering pecuniary assistance.

When these matters were arranged between Catesby, Percy, and Tresham,
Fawkes and Thomas Winter procured some fresh powder, and placed it in
the cellar, as they intended it should stand for the explosion. All
things being thus arranged by the conspirators, the parliament was again
prorogued until the _Fifth_ of November; an event which dispersed the
party for a time. This third prorogation alarmed the conspirators, who
imagined that their plot was discovered. To ascertain whether their
suspicions were well founded, they mingled with the crowd on the day of
prorogation, in order that they might watch the proceedings of the
commissioners. They were satisfied that their suspicions were
groundless; so that they went into the country in high spirits. About
ten days previous to the _Fifth_ of November, Catesby and Fawkes
returned to the neighbourhood of London. Several of the traitors met
together at _White Webbs_, on _Enfield Chase_. At this time, they were
informed, that the prince of Wales would not be present at the opening
of parliament. Whereupon, they determined on seizing him after the
explosion. The duke of York, afterwards Charles I., was so safely
guarded, that they entertained but slight hopes of getting him into
their power. Down to the end of October, therefore, all things seemed to
favour the designs of the conspirators, while the intended victims were
unconscious of the danger to which they were exposed. Still the watchful
eye of Divine providence was fixed upon the king and the peers; and the
schemes of the traitors, secretly as they were carried on, were
revealed, by one of those remarkable events, which no human
understanding can fathom. The remark of Fuller on the frequent
prorogation of parliament deserves attention: “As if Divine providence
had given warning to these traitors (by the slow proceedings, and oft
adjourning of the parliament), mean time seriously to consider, what
they went about, and seasonably to desist from so damnable a design, as
suspicious at last it would be ruined, which so long had been retarded.
But, no _taking off their wheels_ will stay those _chariots_ from
drowning, which God hath decreed shall be swallowed in the _Red

    [Footnote 10: Book x. 35.]

I have now brought the narrative down to the latter end of October,
1605. The conspirators were in and near London, Fawkes alone, as the
individual who was to fire the train, taking his post in the cellar, or
the adjoining house, as Catesby’s servant. The parties were very
cautious in all their proceedings, so that they met together secretly,
whenever a meeting was necessary. As the powder and the wood were
deposited in the cellar, and nothing remained to be done in London, the
conspirators hovered near, leaving Fawkes to manage the firing of the
train. They were full of sanguine expectations respecting the event, and
busied themselves at this period, in forming plans for securing the
young princes, and for carrying their ulterior designs into execution.
Their attempt was, however, frustrated by an overruling providence!



Before the narrative is carried further, it will be desirable to allude
to those clerical individuals who were privy to this conspiracy. The
actors were, as has been seen, laymen; but there were some priests of
the church of Rome, and members of the order of Jesuits, who were no
less implicated in the design than those who actually worked in the
mine. Garnet, Gerard, and Tesmond, were Englishmen by birth; and yet,
for the sake of advancing the interests of the church of Rome, they
hesitated not to enter into the plot. Garnet was evidently a man of
considerable attainments; nor is there any reason to believe that he was
not, in many respects, an amiable man. His principles however, were
such, that he could without scruple enter into a conspiracy against his
sovereign and his country. There is reason to believe that he was privy
to the design from the commencement, if he did not even suggest it to
Catesby. At all events these Jesuits were made acquainted with all the
proceedings of the conspirators, whom they aided and encouraged in their
work, by such counsel as the church of Rome is accustomed to impart to
her deluded votaries.

Even Catesby at one time had his scruples. He was not satisfied that it
was right to sacrifice several Roman Catholic peers, who would be
present at the opening of the session. His scruples were submitted to
Garnet. It is, however, more than probable, that Catesby applied to
Garnet, in order that he might be able to remove the scruples of others,
should any arise. A case, therefore, was proposed, and to the following
effect: “Whether, for the good of the church against heretics, it would
be lawful, amongst many nocents, to destroy some innocents?” Garnet
replied, that, if the advantage to the church would be greater, by
taking away some of the Roman Catholic lords, together with many of
their enemies, it would be lawful to destroy them all. “Indeed,” says
Fuller, “the good husbandman in the Gospel, permitted the _tares_ to
grow for the corne’s sake; whereas here, by the contrary counsel of the
_Jesuit_, the corn (so they reputed it,) was to be rooted up for the
tares’ sake[11].” He gave also an illustration from the case of a
besieged town, which must be subjected to the horrors of war, even
though some friends of the besiegers are dwelling within its walls. It
was this determination of Garnet’s, that quieted the doubts of the whole
party throughout the proceedings. Rookwood was staggered, when the
matter was first proposed to him; but he was satisfied when Catesby
mentioned Garnet’s decision.

    [Footnote 11: Book x. 36.]

The Jesuit wished to obtain the formal consent of the pope; but Catesby
argued that it had been already granted, in the two bulls, the object of
which was to prevent James from succeeding to the throne. Keys was
induced to enter into the plot by these arguments; while Bates,
Catesby’s servant, was assured by another Jesuit, not only that he might
lawfully conceal, but actually participate in the treason.

It has been already stated, that Bates confessed to Tesmond. In the
church of Rome, confession precedes the sacrament; and in confession,
Bates revealed all the particulars of the plot; still he was encouraged
in the treason by his ghostly counsellor. In short, the evidence of the
participation of the Jesuits in the plot is of such a description, that
it cannot be disputed by any one who examines it.

The narrative has already been brought down to the autumn of 1605, when
the parliament was prorogued from October to November the 5th. On
Saturday evening, October 26, ten days previous to the day fixed for the
opening of parliament, a letter, addressed to Lord Monteagle, was
delivered, by a person unknown, to his lordship’s footman, in the
street, with a strict injunction to deliver it into his master’s own
hands. This circumstance took place at seven o’clock, just as the
nobleman was about to sit down to supper. The letter was put into his
lordship’s hand by the servant. On opening it, he found it written in a
very illegible hand, and without date or subscription. Monteagle
summoned one of his attendants, to assist him in deciphering the
epistle, which was couched in the following terms:—

    “My lord,

    “Out of the love I bear to some of your friends, I have a care
    of your preservation; therefore, I would advise you, as you
    tender your life, to devise some excuse to shift off your
    attendance at this parliament; for God and man have concurred to
    punish the wickedness of this time. And think not slightly of
    this advertisement, but retire yourself into your country, where
    you may expect the event in safety. For though there be no
    appearance of any stir, _yet I say they shall receive a terrible
    blow this parliament, and yet they shall not see who hurts
    them_. This council is not to be contemned, because it may do
    you good, and can do you no harm; _for the danger is past, as
    soon as you have burnt the letter_: and I hope God will give you
    the grace to make a good use of it, to whose holy protection I
    commend you[12].”

    [Footnote 12: “A strange letter, from a strange hand, by a
    strange messenger: without date to it, name at it, and (I had
    almost said) sense in it. A letter which, even when it was
    opened, was still sealed, such the affected obscurity
    therein.”—FULLER. Book x. 26.]

Dark, indeed, were the words. In the first instance, Monteagle viewed
the matter as a _hoax_, intended to prevent him from attending the
opening of the session. Still he deemed it the safest course not to
conceal its contents. Accordingly he hastened off to Whitehall at that
late hour, when, too, the streets of London were not lighted as they are
in our day, and submitted the letter to the earl of Salisbury, Cecil,
one of the secretaries of state. It does not appear that Cecil laid much
stress upon the letter; at the same time he expressed an opinion, that
it might refer to some design of the papists, respecting which he had
received some information from various quarters. His information,
however, did not relate to any plot; but merely to an attempt, on the
part of the Romanists, at the commencement of the session, to obtain a
toleration for their worship, and the relaxation of some of the penal

Various attempts have been made to shift the odium of the conspiracy
from the church of Rome, and also from any members of that church. Some
Roman Catholic writers have not scrupled to say, that the whole was a
trick of Cecil’s, and that King James was privy to the design, which was
entered upon by the court, for the purpose of rendering the Romanists
odious, and to pave the way for more stringent laws against recusants.

The assertion that the whole plot was a trick of Cecil’s, intended to
render the Romanists odious to their countrymen, was not advanced till
sixty years after the event. No one at the time questioned the reality
of the conspiracy. The confessions of the parties, and the secret
letters of Sir Everard Digby, preclude the possibility of even
entertaining such an absurd notion. Not one of the conspirators
complained of being deceived into the plot, either at his trial or
execution; nor did any of their apologists deny the fact of the treason.
The assertion was worthy of that church from whom it proceeded. Mr.
Hallam, a most unexceptionable witness, thus argues on this point: “But
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. The letter to Monteagle, the
discovery of the powder, the simultaneous rising in arms in
Warwickshire,—are as indisputable as any facts in history. What, then,
had Cecil to do with the plot, except that he hit upon the clue to the
dark allusions in the letter to Monteagle, of which he was courtier
enough to let the king take the credit? James’s admirers have always
reckoned this, as he did himself, a vast proof of sagacity: yet there
seems no great acuteness in the discovery, even if it had been his own.
He might have recollected the circumstances of his father’s catastrophe,
which would naturally put him on the scent of gunpowder[13].”

    [Footnote 13: HALLAM’S _Const. Hist._, i. 555.]

In recent times, however, it has been the policy of Roman Catholic
writers to represent the conspiracy as the act of a few desperate
characters. Desperate, indeed, they were; yet they were not men of
desperate fortunes; nor had they suffered under the execution of the
laws; but the sole principle that influenced them was one of religion.
They were willing to risk all for the sake of promoting the interests of
the church of Rome. It will also be seen hereafter that the pope, and
some papal sovereigns, approved of the deed.

As to the report that the court were aware of the design long before the
search, which was made in consequence of the letter, it is as destitute
of foundation as the other. The court knew that some design was on
foot: nor were they surprised, since such had been the case throughout
the reign of Elizabeth; and the court was still composed of the same
great statesmen. As to any knowledge of this particular plot, the court
were not in possession of it. The king of France had informed the
ministers that some secret plot was going on; but beyond this
information the court had no knowledge on the subject. The secular
priests, also, who were protected by Bancroft, intimated that some dark
plot was concocting; but they were as ignorant of the particulars as the
ministers. All the information, which James and his ministers received
from the Continent, amounted merely to an assurance that a treason was
hatching; but respecting the traitors and their proceedings they could
learn nothing. These intimations undoubtedly rendered Cecil and James
suspicious of the letter to Monteagle; but the letter conveyed the first
certain intelligence that the danger was so near and so imminent.

When Cecil had read the letter, he laid it before the lord chamberlain
and the earls of Worcester and Northampton. Monteagle was anxious that
it should receive every consideration. They immediately connected the
letter with the intelligence respecting the designs of the papists, of
which they had been previously warned. It was determined, therefore, to
submit the letter to the king, and not to take any steps in the business
until they had obtained his majesty’s orders.

On Thursday, October 31st, the king returned from Royston; and the next
day Cecil submitted the letter to his inspection. It appears that Cecil
offered no opinion concerning the letter; he merely placed it in his
majesty’s hands. After a little pause, the king expressed an opinion
that it ought not to be despised. Cecil, perceiving that the king viewed
the matter more seriously than he had anticipated, referred him to one
sentence, _“for the danger is past as soon as you have burnt the
letter,”_ which he conceived must have been written by a fool or a
madman, since if the danger was past as soon as the letter was
destroyed, as if burning the letter could ward off the danger, the
warning was of small consequence. The king connected the expression with
the former sentence, _“That they should receive a terrible blow at this
parliament, and yet should not see who hurt them.”_ Taking the two
sentences together, the king immediately fancied that there was an
allusion to some attempt by gunpowder. An insurrection, or any other
attempt, during the sitting of parliament, could not be unseen; could
not be momentarily executed. The king interpreted the clause thus, that
the danger would be sudden and as quickly over as the burning of the
paper in the fire, taking the words _as soon_ in the sense of _as
quickly_. He suggested, therefore, that the letter must refer to an
explosion of gunpowder, and that the spot chosen for it must be under or
near the House of Lords.

It is remarkable that Cecil himself had intimated to some of his
colleagues, before the king’s return from Royston, that the letter must
refer to an explosion of gunpowder: the very same suspicion also crossed
the mind of the earl of Suffolk, the lord chamberlain. This suspicion,
however, was concealed from the king by the two statesmen. His majesty
instantly took the same view of the letter, though he was totally
unacquainted with the opinions of his two councillors. Popish authors
have laboured to prove, that the treason was either planned by, or at
least known to, the court, because the king so readily referred the
letter to an explosion by gunpowder. Cecil and Suffolk had conceived the
same opinion, though it does not appear that they thought of gunpowder
secreted under the House of Lords. But what proof does this circumstance
furnish of any previous knowledge even, on the part of the court, much
less of contrivance? Was it strange that they should thus interpret such
a mysterious letter? Cecil and Suffolk were fully aware of the plots
which had been devised against Elizabeth; they knew that on more than
one occasion, the traitors had contemplated the death of the queen by
means of gunpowder. With these facts fresh in their recollection, it was
perfectly natural to interpret the letter to signify some attempt of the
same kind. In short, no other interpretation could have reasonably been
put upon it. That the king himself should have suspected some attempt by
means of gunpowder was also to be expected. He was well aware of the
practices of the church of Rome; and it is probable that, on this
occasion, he recollected the fate of his father, King Henry, whose death
was accomplished by an explosion of gunpowder. To King James, therefore,
really belongs the honour of discovering the gunpowder treason; for,
though Cecil and Suffolk had conceived the same idea, yet they do not
appear to have entertained the notion of a mine under the House of
Lords. Besides, the two lords did not communicate their suspicions to
the king. The remarkable part of the business, therefore, is the fact,
that the three individuals should have so readily struck upon the same
idea. It must, however, be stated that the interpretation put by the
king upon the clause relative to the burning of the letter was not the
true one: for it is pretty clear, that the writer wished Monteagle to
absent himself from the parliament, and to burn the letter to avoid
suspicion of being privy to the plot. But, though we may admit, that the
king’s interpretation of the clause was not that, which the writer
intended, yet we must acknowledge, that his majesty’s suggestion was
most providential, and sufficient to justify the strong language used in
the Act of Parliament for the observance of the Fifth of November. Let
it be remembered that timidity was one of James’s infirmities; and fear
is usually very quick-sighted.

At this first interview with the king, no plan was adopted for their
further course. The king suggested a search; but Cecil did not give his
sanction. It appears to have been his aim to delay the search a little
longer; and, therefore, he quitted the royal presence with a jest. What
his motives were for not complying with the king’s suggestion, cannot be
ascertained. In all probability he was anxious to consult his
colleagues, or he may have thought that the king’s apprehensions
relative to the concealment of gunpowder under the House of Lords were
groundless. He did not, however, think lightly of the matter, though he
jested with his majesty; for he immediately laid the whole case before
the lords, with whom he had previously consulted, telling them what the
king had said and suggested. It was agreed that Cecil should wait on the
king the next day. The next day, accordingly, being Saturday, he
introduced the subject again to the notice of his majesty. At this
interview the lord chancellor was also present. It was now determined,
that the lord chamberlain, by virtue of his office, should examine all
the parts contiguous to the House of Lords, and especially the lower
offices, in order that he might judge, from the appearances, which might
present themselves, whether there was a probability of any such danger.
To prevent the circulation of idle rumours, as well as to allow the
conspirators to carry their plans as near to completion as possible, the
examination was deferred until the following Monday, November 4th, being
the day preceding that fixed for the opening of the session.

It has never been satisfactorily ascertained who was the writer of the
letter; but it is remarkable that the circumstance was made known to the
conspirators within a very brief space after its delivery to Lord
Monteagle. That one of the party penned it there can be no doubt; for
they had proceeded with so much secresy, that no other person had any
idea of such a design. By the interposition of Providence one, who was
anxious to save an individual nobleman from death, brought destruction
not only upon himself, but also upon all his associates. Neither the
writer nor the bearer of the letter was ever known. It is probable that
the writer himself was the bearer, as it is unlikely that the man who
could pen it, and who felt so much anxiety about the life of Lord
Monteagle, would commit it to the custody of another.

On Sunday evening, October 27th, the day after the delivery of the
letter, a person called on Thomas Winter, and related the circumstance.
This person was the servant of Monteagle, who had been called in to
assist in deciphering the letter. Winter communicated the intelligence
to Catesby, and recommended instant flight; but the latter was
determined to ascertain the exact amount of information which had been
communicated to Monteagle, which he hoped to discover by watching the
movements of the government agents near the Parliament House. Winter,
therefore, remained at White Webbs with Catesby, while Fawkes was sent
to London to watch the proceedings of the court. Fawkes left them on
Wednesday morning, October 30th, and returned in the evening, with the
gratifying intelligence, that he found every thing in the cellar just as
he had left it. They now hoped that the letter was disregarded, and that
the danger of discovery was over. On the Thursday, Winter returned to
London; and on Friday, he met Catesby and Tresham at Barnet. Tresham,
who was related to Monteagle’s wife, was suspected of being the writer
of the letter, and was questioned on the subject by Catesby. He denied,
however, that he had any knowledge of the matter; and it appears from
Winter’s confession that his denial was believed by the other
conspirators. On Saturday, November 2nd, in the evening, Tresham and
Winter met again in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. On this occasion, Tresham
related several particulars of the interviews between the king and
Cecil. How he became acquainted with these particulars does not appear.
Both Catesby and Winter deemed it necessary now to think of flight; but
the former would not take that step without seeing Percy, who was not
yet come up from the country. On Percy’s arrival on the Sunday, he
recommended that they should remain, and await the issue.

All the conspirators were now in great perplexity. On Monday, Nov. 4,
Catesby went into the country, and Percy to the seat of the earl of
Northumberland. Fawkes remained to fire the train, as had been
previously arranged. At this time, therefore, they were uncertain
whether they were discovered, or whether the treason was still unknown.

On Monday afternoon, agreeably to the previous arrangement, the lord
chamberlain, accompanied by Lord Monteagle, and Whinyard, keeper of the
wardrobe, proceeded to examine the rooms under the House of Lords. They
came at last, to the vault or cellar, which had been taken by Percy.
Here they saw the coals and wood which had been deposited there by the
conspirators, to conceal the barrels of gunpowder. The cellar was at the
disposal of Whinyard: and it appears to have been his privilege to let
it for his own profit. On being questioned by the lord chamberlain,
Whinyard replied, that he had let the cellar to Thomas Percy, with the
adjoining house, and that the wood and coals were the property of that
gentleman. At this stage of the examination, the lord chamberlain saw a
man standing in a corner of the cellar, who stated that he was Percy’s
servant, and that he was left by his master in charge of the house and
cellar. This individual was Guy Fawkes, who was appointed to fire the
train. The lord chamberlain carelessly remarked to Fawkes, that his
master was well provided, by his large stock of fuel, against the blasts
of winter. On leaving the cellar, Lord Monteagle intimated his suspicion
that Percy was the writer of the letter. This suspicion entered his mind
as soon as Percy’s name was mentioned, recollecting the friendship that
had subsisted between them[14].

    [Footnote 14: I quote the following passage from _The
    Continuation of the History of England from Sir James
    Mackintosh_, in _Lardner’s Cabinet Cyclopædia_, for the purpose
    of showing how unqualified the continuator is for the task which
    he has undertaken: “Search was accordingly made, and the powder
    was found concealed under billets of wood, and fagots: but all
    was left in the same state as before, to lull the conspirators
    into security.” Such is the way in which this gentleman writes
    history. It will be seen from the narrative, that at the search
    to which this writer refers, the gunpowder was not discovered.
    The parties returned to the council, and having made their
    report, it was debated whether the search should be carried
    further. What dependance can be placed on the statements of a
    writer who confounds two circumstances with each other, or
    rather is not aware, of more than one search, or attempt at a
    search having been made!]

The lord chamberlain returned immediately to the king, to whom, with the
council, he related all that he had seen, mentioning also the suspicion
of Lord Monteagle respecting Percy. He expressed his surprise that so
large a quantity of fuel should be deposited in the cellar, when it was
well known, that the house was seldom occupied by Percy. It appears,
too, that he did not consider that the appearance of Fawkes was much
like that of a servant.

The king still insisted, that it was necessary to make a rigid search,
and that the wood and coals must be removed. It occurred to him, that
they were placed there to conceal the gunpowder, for it was his
majesty’s firm conviction, that some such attempt was alluded to by the
writer of the letter. The members of the council who were then present,
concurred also in the same opinion. Still, they were in doubt as to the
mode in which the search should be conducted. They were, on the one
hand, anxious for the safety of the king’s person, and on the other,
fearful lest, if nothing of the kind should be discovered, they might be
exposed to ridicule for entertaining groundless fears, unbecoming in
statesmen and the ministers of the crown. It was suggested, also, that
if the search proved fruitless, the earl of Northumberland might feel
himself aggrieved, in consequence of his relationship to Percy, the
owner of the house. All the members of the council agreed in the
necessity of instituting a search: but their opinions respecting the
manner in which it should be effected, widely differed. James insisted,
that they must necessarily adopt one of two courses; either search the
cellar narrowly, or leave the matter altogether, and go to the House the
next day, just as if no suspicion had ever existed.

It was therefore determined at length, that a search should be made; but
to prevent any sinister report, supposing nothing was discovered, it was
ordered that Whinyard, the keeper of the wardrobe, should search the
cellar, under the pretence of having lost some of the hangings, which
had been placed in his custody. The king also suggested that the search
should be conducted under the direction of a magistrate. Accordingly,
Sir Thomas Knivett, a magistrate for Westminster, proceeded with a small
and chosen band, to the parliament house, at midnight; while the king
and his councillors remained at Whitehall. At the entrance to the
cellar, they discovered Fawkes standing with his cloak and boots on, as
if about to take a journey. He had just made all his arrangements
within, when the magistrate and his party approached. Knivett
apprehended him immediately, and then the party proceeded to remove some
of the wood and coals. They soon came to a barrel of gunpowder: and in
a short space, the whole number, amounting to thirty-six, were
discovered. The next step was to search the prisoner Fawkes. They found
on his person matches, and all other things necessary for his purpose. A
dark lanthorn was discovered in a corner of the cellar. Fawkes made
great resistance, when the party attempted to search his person; but as
soon as he was secured, he expressed his sorrow, that he had not been
able to fire the train, which he asserted he would have done, if he had
been within the cellar at the moment when he was taken, instead of being
at the door.

Besides the lanthorn and the matches, there was found on the person of
Fawkes, a _pocket watch_! At that time, such a thing was very uncommon.
He had procured this watch in order that he might ascertain the exact
hour for firing the train. Such little incidental notices serve to show
the state of the arts and sciences at particular periods, with their
subsequent progress, better than the most laboured treatises on the
subject. At this time, we learn, that small watches for the pocket were
very uncommon; for the fact, that such a watch was found on the person
of Fawkes, is mentioned as a rare circumstance. What a contrast between
that period and the present day! And yet, in many of the fine arts, the
age of James I. and Charles I. vastly excelled our own. In the
mechanical arts, however, it was greatly inferior.

Sir Thomas Knivett, having secured Fawkes, returned to Whitehall, about
four o’clock on the morning of Tuesday, the Fifth of November, so that
the discovery took place exactly twelve hours before the time, when the
train would have been fired, if the parliament had assembled. The
magistrate communicated everything to the lord chamberlain, who rushed
without ceremony, into the king’s chamber, exclaiming that all was
discovered, that all was safe, and that the traitor was secured. All
the members of the council, who were in London, were now summoned to
attend. Within a short space, Fawkes was placed before them, in order
that he might be examined respecting this unheard-of treason. The
prisoner appeared before them undaunted. Neither the awful situation in
which he stood, nor the numberless questions which were put to him by
those who stood by, moved him in the least. He not only avowed his
participation in the treason, but regretted that he had not been able to
execute it. Alluding to the discovery, he remarked, that the devil, not
God, was the author of that discovery. During the whole day, the council
could extract nothing from him by their examinations. He took all the
blame upon himself, refusing to name any of his accomplices, but
acknowledging that he was induced to enter upon the treason, from
religious motives alone. He denied that the king was his lawful
sovereign, inasmuch as he was a heretic. At this time, he refused to
disclose his true name, calling himself _John Johnson_, servant to
_Thomas Percy_. In a few days, however, being in a prison, he made a
full confession of his guilt. Thus was discovered, one of the darkest
treasons with which our annals are stained. Divine Providence
interposed, just at the moment when the conspirators believed that their
expectations were about to be realized. The merit of the discovery must
certainly be attributed to the king. For though it is clear that the
letter evidently pointed to something of the sort; yet before the
treason was discovered, most of those to whom it was submitted, were in
much doubt as to its meaning. The king alone suggested, that the vaults
under the House should be searched: and in such a case, who can deny,
that the thought in the king’s mind was suggested by a higher power?
“Let King James,” says Fuller, “by reading the letter, have the credit
of discovering this plot to the world, and God the glory, for
discovering it unto King James.” Wilson’s words are much to the same
effect; “being discovered by a light from heaven, and a letter from one
of the conspirators, when the fire was already in their hands, as well
as raged in their hearts, to put to the train.”

Half an hour before the time, when it was expected that the king would
enter the house, Fawkes was to place a match in such a position, that
after burning during that space, should fire the train. He was to set
sail for Flanders, for the purpose of obtaining succours from foreign
princes; and the rest of the conspirators were to manage matters at
home. It is said that those Jesuits who were privy to the design, but
who could not publicly appear, were appointed to meet on a certain spot,
on Hampstead Hill, that they might behold the conflagration caused by
the explosion. This spot is still designated _Traitors’ Hill_.

There is, indeed, a story, which would lead to the belief, that Fawkes
was to have been sacrificed by his brethren in crime. I give the story,
as it is recorded in the histories of the period, without pledging
myself to its truth. At Tickmarsh, in Northamptonshire, resided a Mr.
Pickering, who had a horse remarkable for its speed; Keys, one of the
conspirators, is said to have borrowed this horse, shortly before the
period fixed for the opening of the session. Fawkes, after having fired
the train, was to proceed to St. George’s Fields, where he would find
the horse in question, on which he was to make his escape. This was the
impression on Fawkes’s own mind. It was further arranged, that Mr.
Pickering, who was a well known puritan, should that morning be murdered
in his bed, and secretly conveyed away; and that Fawkes also should be
murdered in St. George’s Fields, and so mangled, as not to be recognized
by any one. A report was then to be circulated, that the puritans had
perpetrated the atrocious deed; and to give some colour to this report,
the conspirators were to appeal to the fact, that Mr. Pickering, with
his swift horse, was there ready to escape; but that some persons who
saw him, in detestation of so horrible a deed, had killed him on the
spot, and hewed his body to pieces. Thus the mangled body of Fawkes was
to be taken for that of Mr. Pickering, it being supposed that no one
would doubt the fact, from the circumstance of the horse being found
near the spot. It is added, that Fawkes, when he was convinced that it
was the intention of his companions to put him to death, confessed the
whole plot, which he would not have done, but for this treachery on the
part of his fellow-conspirators. Such is the story, but I cannot vouch
for its truth[15].

    [Footnote 15: In a work published shortly after the discovery, I
    find it positively stated, that Tresham was the writer of the
    letter to Monteagle. This merely shows what was the general
    belief at the time. See _The Picture of a Papist_. 4to. p. 124.

The fact, that the vaults and cellars under the House of Lords were then
let out to hire for such purposes, furnishes a singular view of the
manners of the age when contrasted with those of our own times. It
appears that the inferior officers of the House made the most of their
privileges. At this stage of the discovery, the king and his ministers
were ignorant of the mine, which had been carried along from Percy’s
residence, under the walls of the House of Lords. This was not known
until some of the conspirators had made a discovery of all their
proceedings. Great was the joy of the nation when it became known that
such a treason had been brought to light, and great was their gratitude
to that omniscient Being, by whose gracious interposition, the dark
designs of the conspirators were frustrated.



It will now be necessary to look back a little on the movements of the
other conspirators. Fawkes remained to fire the train and was secured,
as is detailed in the last chapter. On Tuesday morning, November 5th, as
early as five o’clock, one of the Wrights called on Thomas Winter,
assuring him that the whole plot was discovered. Wright stated, that a
nobleman had called on Lord Monteagle, bidding him rise to accompany him
to the earl of Northumberland’s, where it was probably expected that
Percy would be found. This was only an hour after the return of the
searching party to Whitehall. Some of the conspirators were on the watch
in various parts of the town; and Wright chanced to obtain the important
information, which he communicated to Winter. He heard the nobleman, who
called up Lord Monteagle, say, _The matter is discovered_. At Winter’s
request, Wright went back to Essex gate to learn something further: in a
short space he returned, adding, _All is lost_. He found a man on
horseback at Essex door, who immediately rode at full gallop up Fleet
Street. Winter was conscious that they were seeking for Percy; and he
requested Wright to make him acquainted with all that had taken place,
in order that he might effect his escape. Winter then quitted his
lodging, being determined to ascertain the worst. He went first to the
court gates, which were so guarded that no one could enter: he proceeded
onward towards the parliament house, but was prevented from passing by
the guard, which was posted in King Street. As he came back he heard a
person in the street observe to another, that a treason was just
discovered, in which the king and the lords were to have been blown up
by gunpowder. Winter was now convinced that all was discovered, and
therefore he rode off into the country. The two Wrights appear to have
quitted London at the same time.

Catesby, the leader of the conspirators, had left London the preceding
evening, in order that he might be prepared to execute their project
relative to the Princess Elizabeth as soon as the blow should be struck.
Percy also had departed from London that morning as early as four
o’clock, probably from having received some information respecting the
discovery. They made the best of their way into Warwickshire, where they
had previously agreed to meet.

London was all in commotion as the day dawned: the streets were thronged
with spectators, all eagerly inquiring what had taken place during the
night. It was soon ascertained, that a conspiracy had been
providentially discovered, and that one of the traitors was already in
custody. The satisfaction of the people was great at the intelligence,
that no danger now existed, and that the king and the parliament were

Fawkes was kept strictly guarded; and in a few days made a confession of
the principal circumstances of the conspiracy.

The conspirators who had quitted London, previous to the fifth of
November, proceeded to the place of meeting in Warwickshire. On
Wednesday morning Grant and certain others seized upon some horses,
which had been placed under the care of a riding-master. These horses
were to be used at the _hunting match_ appointed by Digby. Their object
was to assemble large numbers of people under the pretence of _hunting_,
and then seize upon the Princess Elizabeth. Having the princess in their
possession, they hoped to be able to succeed in effecting a complete
change in the government of the country. Had the plot succeeded in
London, most of the Papists would have joined them. On Wednesday evening
the conspirators who resided in the country, as well as those who had
quitted London before the discovery, met at Sir Everard Digby’s
according to their previous arrangement.

It was now known that the plot was discovered; for those who had left
London on Tuesday morning brought with them the intelligence. The
question now agitated related to their future movements; and it was
determined to make an attempt at open rebellion. This attempt shows the
desperate character of the men; for they could not reasonably indulge in
the expectation of success. They accordingly mustered as many forces as
they were able, intending to await the issue of an encounter with the
civil power, and hoping, amid the confusion consequent upon the
discovery of the treason, to induce many members of the church of Rome
to join them. In one of the letters of Sir Everard Digby, referred to in
a subsequent page, a clear and succinct account of their intended
movements is given:—“If the design had taken place, there could have
been no doubt of other success; for that night, before any other could
have brought the news, we should have known it by Mr. Catesby, who
should have proclaimed the heir apparent at Charing-cross as he came out
of town: to which purpose there was a proclamation drawn: if the duke
had not been in the House then, there was a certain way laid for the
possessing him; but in regard of the assurance, they should have been
there, therefore the greatest of our business stood in the possessing
the Lady Elizabeth, who lying within eight miles of Dunchurch, we would
have easily surprised before the knowledge of any doubt—this was the
cause of my being there.” They mustered to the number of eighty persons
only. From Warwickshire they passed to the borders of Staffordshire. Sir
Richard Verney, the high sheriff of Warwickshire, pursued them. As they
rambled through the country, they seized upon such arms and ammunition
as fell in their way. On Friday, the 8th of November, the conspirators
reached the house of Stephen Littleton, at Holbeach, in Staffordshire.
The sheriff of Worcestershire sent a trumpeter commanding them to
surrender, thinking that they were merely guilty of an ordinary riot,
for he had not yet heard of the conspiracy. In those days intelligence
was not so rapidly communicated, from one part of the country to
another, as in modern times. The discovery took place on Tuesday morning
very early: and the assemblage at Littleton’s house was on the Friday
after; and yet the sheriff of Worcestershire had received no information
respecting the discovery of the plot. The traitors, however, were not
aware that the sheriff was ignorant of their proceedings in London: on
the contrary, they imagined that he was sent after them by a special
order from the court. They prepared, therefore, to defend themselves,
being resolved to sell their lives as dearly as possible.

The sheriff promised to intercede with his majesty in their favour, on
the condition of their surrendering themselves, being unacquainted with
their treason. Several proclamations had been sent into the country
after the conspirators, in which the necessity of preserving Percy alive
was strongly urged. But in those days a hundred miles were not soon
travelled over. It is stated by contemporary authorities that the roads
were very bad at the time; while another reason assigned for the slow
travelling of the messengers, who had carried the proclamations, is the
shortness of the days. It appears that travelling by night at that time
was never contemplated. Thus on the third day after the discovery of the
treason—the day on which the conspirators met at Holbeach—the
authorities in the counties, in which the traitors were assembled, had
received no tidings even of the existence of a plot.

While they were occupied in making their preparations in the house, a
spark of fire dropped on about two pounds of gunpowder, which had been
laid on a plate near the chimney, for the purpose of being dried. One of
the party chanced to throw a log of wood on the fire; this raised the
sparks, one of which fell on the powder, causing an explosion, by which
the roof of the house was blown off, and the persons of Catesby,
Rookwood, and Grant blackened and scorched. It was remarkable that a bag
of gunpowder, of considerable size, which was lying in the room at the
time of the explosion, was blown into the court-yard without being
ignited, or none of the conspirators could have survived, and thus the
whole of the plot would have been for ever enveloped in mystery.
Catesby, Rookwood, and Grant were partly disabled by the explosion, “so
bearing in their bodies,” says Fuller, “not στιγματα, _the marks of the
Lord Jesus Christ_, but the print of their own impieties.” As the house
had caught fire it was deemed necessary to open the doors and attempt to
escape; but when the bars of the outer gates were removed to permit the
conspirators to rush forth, the sheriff’s men rushed in, so that escape
was impossible. The battle now raged in the court-yard of the house with
great violence. Catesby and Percy placed themselves back to back, and
fought, though the former had been partly disabled by the explosion,
with desperate courage. One of the sheriff’s men levelled his piece
across a wall, taking deliberate aim at Catesby and Percy, both of whom
fell by the same ball, the former dead on the spot, and the latter
mortally wounded[16]. The two Wrights also were slain, during the
encounter in the court of Littleton’s house; Rookwood and one of the
Winters were wounded; and the rest were taken prisoners.

    [Footnote 16: “Never,” says Fuller, “were two bad men’s deaths
    more generally lamented of all good men: only on this account,
    that they lived no longer to be forced to a further discovery of
    their secret associates.”—Book x. 36.]

As soon as possible after the struggle, the conspirators were lodged by
the sheriff in the county gaol. In a short space they were removed to
London: and during the journey, and especially as they approached the
metropolis, the people came in vast crowds to obtain a sight of men, who
had concocted and almost executed so desperate a treason. Every one
wished to see the faces of men, whose names and whose deeds were now
resounded from one end of the country to the other.

Tresham remained in London during the commotion consequent upon the
discovery of the plot. He was taken in a short time and lodged in
prison. Robert Winter evaded the search that was made for him during a
short space, but at length was apprehended. Sir Everard Digby was also
taken. The actual conspirators were thirteen in number; four were slain
in the conflict at Holbeach; the rest were all taken soon after the
discovery of the plot. Tresham confessed in prison his share in the
transaction. He died before the day appointed for their trial. Eight of
them were brought to trial early in the next year, as will be noticed in
a subsequent chapter.

On the 9th of November the parliament assembled. The king addressed them
on the occasion in a lengthened speech, in which he dwelt on the
proceedings of the traitors, and on the policy of the measures which had
been enacted against recusants. James took a sort of review of all the
dangers to which he had been exposed, alluding especially to the Gowry
conspiracy. The speech abounds in good sense, and sensible and judicious
remarks are scattered over all its parts. Alluding to the characters of
the conspirators, he very wisely observes, that there was nothing to
induce them to enter into this conspiracy, except a mistaken zeal for
their religion. He tells the lords and commons, that as soon as the
letter was shewn to him, he interpreted certain expressions, contrary to
the ordinary laws of grammar, to refer to some explosion of gunpowder.
Having heard the speech from the throne, the parliament was adjourned
until the 21st of the ensuing January.

When the discovery of the plot was known on the Continent, several of
the sovereigns sent to congratulate the king on his escape. In the case
of some of these sovereigns, their congratulations were sincere; but in
other cases the language of deceit must have been used. The king of
Spain and the pope, were among the most forward to congratulate his
majesty; and yet with great inconsistency they sheltered and protected
some of those individuals who fled from their own country, and were
privy to the conspiracy. Osborn assures us, however, that the pope could
not refrain from laughing in the face of _Cardinal D’Ossat_, when he
informed him, that the Spanish monarch had sent a special messenger to
the English court for that express purpose. Indeed, all these
congratulations were hollow and insincere; but they would have been
exposed to censure as men and as sovereigns, if they had not so far
acted the part of hypocrites as to pretend to rejoice at the escape of
the English monarch.

That the pope and the king of Spain, and some other papal sovereigns,
would have rejoiced at the success of the plot, can scarcely be doubted,
since their subsequent actions, as will be noticed in another chapter,
proved that they favoured those who were privy to the conspiracy. It can
scarcely indeed be doubted that the Spanish sovereign, and his holiness,
and perhaps some other sovereigns, were acquainted with the designs of
the conspirators; at all events, if they were not aware of the
particulars of the plot, they knew that some conspiracy was in
agitation, which was intended to be executed during that winter. Many of
the Romanists on the Continent knew that some great deed was to be
attempted, though they did not know the particulars.

The parliament did not meet on the 5th of November; but the following
entry stands on the journals of the House of Commons under that
date:—“This last night the upper house of parliament was searched by
Sir Thomas Knevett; and one _Johnson_, servant to Mr. Thomas Percye, was
there apprehended, who had placed thirty-six barrels of gunpowder in the
vault under the house, with a purpose to blow up the king and the whole
company when they should there assemble. Afterwards, divers other
gentlemen were discovered to be of the plot[17].”

    [Footnote 17: _Parl. Hist._ v. 125.]

On the 21st of January, the two houses assembled according to the
previous arrangement, when a committee was formed “to consider the laws
already in force, that tend to the preservation of religion—what
defects are in the execution of them, or what new laws may be thought
needful[18].” The lord chancellor gave special directions to the clerk
to notice the peers who should fail to attend in their places; for there
was a suspicion that certain Roman Catholic lords were implicated in the
treason. Some were in consequence imprisoned and fined. In the House of
Commons the same subject was discussed the first day of the session. The
minds of men indeed could dwell on nothing else; nor is it surprising
that such was the case; for a most horrible plot had been discovered,
and the traitors were already in prison awaiting the sentence of the
law. At length a committee was appointed to decide upon some course to
be taken against _jesuits_, _seminaries_, and other _papal agents_.

    [Footnote 18: Ibid. v. 141.]

The conspirators were tried and convicted at common law, as will be
related in the next chapter; but the parliament seemed anxious to award
some new punishment, beyond that which was ordinarily inflicted on
traitors, on such culprits, for the purpose of marking their sense of
their crime. Accordingly a committee was appointed in the lords to
consider what extraordinary punishments should be inflicted. While they
were engaged in this business, it was reported to the house, that it was
not convenient to delay longer the trial of the conspirators, and
therefore the matter dropped. The commons were no less anxious on the
subject than the lords. The question was debated at some length; but at
last it was determined, that the conspirators should be left to the
ordinary courts of justice. On the 25th of January, however, the commons
framed and passed a bill, which was sent up to the lords, entitled, _“An
Act for Appointing a Thanksgiving to Almighty God every year on the
Fifth of November.”_ When the bill was carried to the lords, the
messengers stated, “that the whole body of the commons having entered
into consideration of the great blessing of God, in the happy
preservation of his majesty and the state, from the late most dangerous
treason intended to have been attempted by the instigation of _jesuits_,
_seminaries_, and _Romish priests_, had framed and passed the said bill
in their house, as the first fruits of their labours, in this session of
parliament, which they did very earnestly recommend to their lordships.”
The lords read and passed the bill in three days, without even going
into a committee. This act is, therefore, the _first_ in the printed
statutes of the session. Several bills were passed against recusants and
as a protection to the Protestant religion. On the 27th of May the
session was terminated[19].

    [Footnote 19: During this session an Act was passed, by which
    every one was obliged to take the oath of allegiance—“a very
    moderate test,” says Hume, “since it decided no controverted
    points between the two religions, and only engaged the persons
    who took it to abjure the pope’s power of dethroning kings.” Mr.
    Hallam’s testimony is equally conclusive: “We cannot wonder that
    a parliament so narrowly rescued from personal destruction,
    endeavoured to draw the cord still tighter round these dangerous
    enemies. The statute passed on this occasion is by no means more
    harsh than might be expected.”—_Const. Hist._ i. 554-5.]

It may be mentioned, that the ceremony of examining the vaults is
performed at the commencement of every session. Whether indeed it has
been continued since the destruction of the two houses by fire, I am
unable to determine; but as the cellar must still remain, I should
imagine that the ceremony is still repeated. At all events, such was the
case prior to the fire. The cellar is still designated Guy Fawkes’s



The conspirators, who had been lodged in prison, were frequently
examined respecting the plot in which they had been engaged. Fawkes,
Thomas Winter, Tresham, and Sir Everard Digby, confessed that they were
guilty of the treason charged against them; and several of the
particulars, which I have detailed in the preceding chapters, were
revealed in these confessions. Catesby and Percy were slain at Holbeach,
or some other information respecting the origin of the plot might have
been obtained. It is probable, too, that Percy might have been able to
give some account of the mysterious letter. For though the conspirators
did not suspect him as the writer, yet it is evident that such was the
impression on the mind of Lord Monteagle. To this day the subject is
involved in mystery. Several conjectures have been formed, but the
matter has never been cleared up; and it is likely to continue to be
involved in mystery, until that great day when all secrets shall be
unravelled, and all difficulties removed.

Tresham, as before observed, died in prison, and was thus spared the
ignominy of a public execution. The other conspirators, Robert Winter,
Thomas Winter, Guy Fawkes, John Grant, Ambrose Rookwood, Robert Keys,
and Thomas Bates, were arraigned and placed at the bar on the 27th of
January, 1605-6. The names of Garnet, Tesmond, and Gerrard, all jesuits,
were also specified in the indictment, though none of them were taken.
Garnet was subsequently apprehended; but the other two jesuits evaded
the pursuit of the officers of justice altogether. The jesuits are
specially charged in the indictment with persuading the other
conspirators to act, on the ground that the king was a heretic, and that
all heretics were accursed and excommunicated; and that, consequently,
it was lawful, nay even meritorious, to kill the king, for the
advancement of the see of Rome. The seven individuals before mentioned
are then charged with consenting, and with contriving the plot, in
conjunction with the jesuits. It appears to have been arranged by the
conspirators, not to mention at first anything concerning a change of
religion in the event of the success of the plot: and further, it was
agreed not to avow the treason, until they should have acquired
sufficient power to secure the completion of their plans. When the usual
questions were asked they all pleaded Not Guilty.

The indictment was opened by Sir Edward Philips, one of the king’s
sergeants-at-law. This gentleman stated the case to the jury in a speech
partly political and partly theological. Treason was the subject, but,
said he, “of such horror, and monstrous nature, that before now, the
tongue of man never delivered, the ear of man never heard, the heart of
man never conceited, nor the malice of hellish or earthly devil ever
practised.” In the course of his speech he further stated, that the
object of the traitors was “to deprive the king of his crown; to murder
the king, the queen, and the prince; to stir up rebellion and sedition
in the kingdom; to bring a miserable destruction upon the subjects; to
change, alter, and subvert the religion here established; to ruinate the
state of the commonwealth, and to bring in strangers to invade it.” That
such were their objects there can be no doubt.

Sir Edward Coke, the attorney-general, followed in a long speech, in
which he stated, and then animadverted on, all their proceedings, from
the commencement of the plot until its discovery. “Surely,” said Sir
Edward, “of these things we may truly say, _Nunquam ante dies nostros
talia acciderunt_, neither hath the eye of man seen, nor the ear of man
heard, the like things to these.”

The particulars recorded in the preceding chapters were many of them
taken from the confessions of some of the conspirators; and the speech
of the attorney-general was founded, in a great measure, on the same
confessions. Many things, indeed, could not have been made known in any
other way. Several days had been occupied in examining the parties in
prison; so that the law officers of the crown came to the trial amply
prepared with materials. In tracing the progress of the treason, Sir
Edward remarked, “It had three roots, all planted and watered by jesuits
and English Roman Catholics: the first root in _England_, in _December_
and _March_; the second in _Flanders_, in _June_; the third in _Spain_,
in _July_. In England it had two branches; one in _December_ was twelve
months before the death of the late queen of blessed memory; another in
_March_, wherein she died.” He then specifies some of the acts in which
Garnet and others were concerned, previous to the accession of James,
and which have already been detailed in a preceding chapter.

Some important particulars are stated in the speech of Sir Edward Coke,
respecting the conduct of the government towards the papists, after
James’s accession. During the reign of Elizabeth, severe measures were
never adopted against _recusants_, as Roman Catholics were then usually
designated in acts of parliament, until their own conduct, or at all
events, the conduct of some members of the church of Rome, rendered it
absolutely necessary. The laws, respecting which so much has been said
by Roman Catholic writers, were enacted in self-defence. Had there been
no treasons no such laws would have been devised; but when the members
of the church of Rome planned, and endeavoured to execute, treasons, and
of such a nature that the existing laws did not meet them, it became
necessary to devise such methods as should not permit the traitors to
escape. The origin, therefore, of the penal laws against the Romanists,
in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, is to be found in their own treasonable
practices; and the same remark will apply also to the reign of King
James. Indeed, James was disposed to act with all possible leniency.
Cruelty was foreign to his nature. Had the Romanists remained quiet,
none would have been punished during his reign for their religious
principles. Nay, so leniently did James act, even after the discovery of
the gunpowder treason, that the puritans hesitated not to charge him
with leaning towards popery.

The question relative to the penal laws is clearly and forcibly stated
by Sir Edward Coke: “Concerning those laws, which they so calumniate as
unjust, it shall in a few words plainly appear, that they were of the
greatest, both of moderation and equity, that ever were any: for from
the year I Eliz. unto XI. all papists came to our church and service
without scruple. I myself have seen _Cornewallis_, _Beddingfield_, and
others at church. So that then, for the space of ten years, they made no
conscience nor doubt to communicate with us in prayer; but when once the
bull of Pope _Pius Quintus_ was come and published, wherein the queen
was accursed and deposed, and her subjects discharged of their obedience
and oath, yea, cursed if they did obey her: then did they all forthwith
refrain from church, then would they have no more society with us in
prayer. So that recusancy in them is not for religion, but in an
acknowledgment of the pope’s power, and a plain manifestation what their
judgment is concerning the right of the prince in respect of regal power
and place.” This is the true state of the case respecting the laws
against recusants. Sir Edward Coke specifies various treasons during the
queen’s reign, and then adds: “_Anno_ XXIII. _Eliz._ after so many years
sufferance, there were laws made against recusants and seditious books.”
He then alludes to the coming over of the _seminary priests_, who were
Englishmen, educated and ordained on the Continent, and who came over
into this country for the express purpose of stirring up rebellion, and
to bring over the queen’s subjects to the see of Rome. “Then,” says he,
“XXVII. _Eliz._ a law was made, that it should be treason for any, (not
to be a priest and an Englishman, born the queen’s natural subject,) but
for any being so born her subject, and made a Romish priest, to come
into her dominions, to infect any her loyal subjects with their
treasonable practices; yet so, that it concerned only such as were made
priests sithence her majesty came to the crown, and not before.”

“Concerning the execution of these laws,” he adds, “it is to be observed
likewise, that whereas in the quinquencey of Queen Mary, there were
cruelly put to death about three hundred persons for religion: in all
her majesty’s time, by the space of forty-four years and upwards, there
were for treasonable practices executed in all not _thirty priests_, nor
above five receivers and harbourers of them; _and for religion not any
one_.” He proceeds: “Now, against the usurped power of the see of
_Rome_, we have of former times about _thirteen_ several acts of
parliament, so that the crown and king of _England_ is no ways to be
drawn under the government of any foreign power whatsoever.” This is an
important point. It was no new thing in England to enact laws against
the papal jurisdiction. The words of King James himself are very strong:
“I do constantly maintain, that no man, either in my time, or in the
late queen’s, ever died here for his conscience. For let him be never so
devout a papist, nay, though he profess the same never so constantly,
his life is in no danger by the law, if he break not out into some
outward act expressly against the words of the law, or plot not some
unlawful or dangerous practice or attempt; priests and popish churchmen
only excepted, that receive orders beyond the seas; who for the manifold
treasonable practices that they have kindled and plotted in this
country, are discharged to come home again under pain of treason, after
their receiving of the said orders abroad; and yet without some other
guilt in them than bare homecoming, have none of them been ever put to
death[20].” The laws regarded not their religious opinions, but their
practices. Will any papist assert that the priests and others did not
endeavour to compass the death of Elizabeth, and to exclude King James
from the throne?

    [Footnote 20: King James’s Works, fol. 336.]

It is remarked by Sir Edward Coke, in the address to the jury, that
during the year and four months since James’s accession, no penalty had
been inflicted on any recusant. The conspirators could not, therefore,
allege that they were driven to such a desperate course, by the harsh
treatment which they had received. The plea of religion was, however,
urged by these men: and that plea was especially grounded on the laws
which had been enacted in the late reign against recusants. They
appeared to exult in the fact, that the place in which the unjust laws,
as they termed them, had been framed, would be the scene of vengeance.

When the attorney-general had finished his address to the jury, the
confessions of the conspirators were read, and acknowledged by the
parties. It was proved on the trial that Hammond, a jesuit, after the
discovery of the treason, actually gave the conspirators absolution on
Thursday, November the 7th. This act is conclusive as to the part taken
by the jesuits in the plot.

A verdict of _guilty_ was returned against the whole number who were
arraigned at the bar. They were asked in the usual form why sentence of
death should not be pronounced. Thomas Winter merely desired that his
brother might be spared, because he was implicated in the treason by his
persuasion. Fawkes objected to certain parts of the indictment, of which
he said he was ignorant; when he was told that they were inserted as a
matter of form. Bates supplicated for mercy, and did not deny his guilt.
Robert Winter pursued the same course. Grant, after remaining silent
some time, confessed that he was guilty of a conspiracy intended, but
never executed. Rookwood at first attempted to justify himself, but at
last acknowledged his offence, admitting that he justly deserved to
undergo the penalty of the law; still he supplicated for mercy on the
ground that he was neither the author of the plot nor an actor in it,
but merely drawn into it by his affection for Catesby.

At this stage of the business a circumstance was mentioned to the court
which had transpired in the prison. On Friday before the trial commenced
Robert Winter and Fawkes were permitted to converse together in their
cells. The former said that he and Catesby had sons, and that boys would
be men, and he hoped that they would avenge the cause. They also
expressed their sorrow that no one had set forth a defence or
justification of the plot.

Sentence was not immediately pronounced; but Sir Everard Digby, who had
been some time in custody, was arraigned at the bar on a separate
indictment. He was charged with being privy to the plot,—with having
taken the oath of secresy,—and also with open rebellion in the country
with the rest of the conspirators, subsequent to the discovery. He had
previously made a confession of his guilt, and, therefore, did not
attempt to defend himself before the court. As he was preparing to
address the court, he was informed that he must first plead either
_guilty_ or _not guilty_. He immediately confessed that he was guilty of
the treason charged against him in the indictment. Sir Everard Digby
evidently would not have been implicated in this conspiracy, but for his
zeal in behalf of the church of Rome. So strong was his attachment to
the papal creed, that he appears to have imagined that he should do God
service by concurring with others in the destruction of heretics.

Having pleaded guilty to the charge of treason, he addressed the court
respecting the motives that had induced him to enter upon such a course.
He declared that neither ambition nor discontent induced him to unite
with the other conspirators, but affection for Catesby the leader. He
also confessed that he was influenced in his decision by religious
considerations. Perceiving, as he said, that religion was in danger, he
had resolved to hazard his property, and even his life, to preserve it,
and to restore Romanism in this country. It appears that the Romanists
were apprehensive of more severe laws being enacted under King James
than those which had been carried by the late queen. There was no ground
for such an apprehension, since King James was really anxious to treat
his Roman Catholic subjects with great lenity. Sir Everard also
requested that his wife and children might not suffer on his account.
His last request was that he might be put to death by being beheaded,
and not as an ordinary traitor.

The attorney-general replied to his address in a strain not unusual in
that age, but which would not be adopted in the present day against the
greatest criminal. Alluding to his very natural plea for his wife and
children, Coke reminded him, in an insulting and sneering tone, of his
attempt to kill the king and queen with the nobility of the country,
asking where his piety and affection were when this scheme was devised?

When Coke charged him with justifying the fact he denied the charge,
confessing that he deserved to suffer, but that he was a petitioner for
his majesty’s mercy. The attorney-general replied, that, having
abandoned every principle of religion and honour, he could not expect to
receive any favour from his majesty.

The earl of Northampton also addressed the prisoner, and in a strain
somewhat milder than Coke. It would shock the feelings of the present
age were the judge on the bench to revile the criminal at the bar,
however notorious his guilt; but at that time such a practice was
common. The earl of Northampton told him, that he had only himself and
his evil councillors to thank. He also reminded him of his favour with
Queen Elizabeth; and that King James was not ill disposed either towards
him or the members of his church generally.

Judgment was now demanded by the king’s sergeant on the seven prisoners
mentioned in the first indictment, on the verdict of the jury; and on
Sir Everard Digby, on his own confession.

The lord chief-justice proceeded to pronounce judgment. He first took a
review of the laws which had been enacted in the reign of Elizabeth
against recusants, priests, and the receivers of priests, specifying the
causes which gave rise to those enactments, and demonstrating that they
were necessary, mild, equal, moderate, and capable of being justified to
the whole world. Sentence was then pronounced in the usual form.

Sir Everard Digby bowing to the lords who were seated on the bench,
said, “If I may but hear any of your lordships say you forgive me, I
shall go more cheerfully to the gallows.” The lords instantly replied,
“God forgive you, and we do.”

On Thursday, January 30, 1605-6, Sir Everard Digby, Robert Winter, John
Grant, and Thomas Bates, were executed at the west end of St. Paul’s
church; and on Friday, January 31st, the sentence of the law was carried
into effect on Thomas Winter, Ambrose Rookwood, Robert Keys, and Guy
Fawkes, in Old Palace-yard, Westminster, and at no great distance from
the House of Lords, the scene of their recent treason.

Most of these wretched men evinced much penitence, both in prison and on
the scaffold. It is remarkable that Fawkes, the most desperate of the
whole number, appeared to be the most penitent at the time of his
execution. They all declared their adherence to the church of Rome,
dying, as they had lived, in her communion. They requested that the
officers in attendance would communicate this their dying declaration to
the world.

After the execution, their bodies, being quartered, were hung up in
various parts of the city, as was the custom at that time with those who
were put to death for treason. The heads of Catesby and Percy were fixed
upon the House of Lords, where they remained some years after, when
Osborne wrote his _Memoirs of King James_; unless, as he intimates, they
had been removed, and others substituted in their room. It was reported
when he wrote, that the heads then fixed on the House of Lords were not
those of the two conspirators, but the heads of two other individuals
procured, probably, from some church-yard, by the friends of Catesby and
Percy, and fixed upon the poles for the purpose of preventing the
discovery of the theft[21].

    [Footnote 21: OSBORNE’S _Works_, p. 434.]

James acted with great lenity towards the families of the conspirators.
By the statute respecting treason the property of the convicted traitor
is forfeited to the crown; but in the cases of these individuals the
children or heirs of those who were in possession of property were
permitted to enjoy it. There was nothing vindictive in James’s
character; and he would have spared even these conspirators, if it had
been possible.

Such was the fate of men who appear to have been guiltless of any other
crime, and who would not have been implicated in this horrible treason,
but for the influence of those principles which the church of Rome
instilled into the minds of her deluded followers.



Some time elapsed before Garnet was taken. He concealed himself in
various places during the few months immediately subsequent to the
discovery of the plot; the strictest search, however, was made; rewards
were offered for his apprehension; and at last he was taken with Hall,
another jesuit, and his own servant, in the house of a Roman Catholic.
The servant became his own executioner in the prison. The proclamation
against Garnet and the other jesuits, is dated January 14, 1605-6; but
he was not taken at the end of the month when the other conspirators
were executed. He did not, however, long elude the pursuit which was

On Friday, March 26, 1605-6, he was brought to trial at the Guildhall,
in the city of London, before the lord mayor, several members of the
king’s council, and certain of the judges. During his imprisonment he
was treated with much leniency, as he himself confessed on his trial. In
the indictment the various names of the prisoners were specified; from
which document we gather that he was known under different designations
according to circumstances. Wally, Darcy, Roberts, Farmer, Philips, were
the names assumed by Garnet on different occasions for the purpose of
concealment. The indictment charged the prisoner, with concurring with
Catesby, and the other conspirators, in the plot against the king and
the state. The jury were sworn, and the prisoner pleaded _not guilty_.

Sir Edward Coke, the attorney-general, proceeded to open the case: and
as this trial reflects much light on the whole conspiracy, I shall
notice all those parts which appear to me of the most importance.

The attorney-general stated in the outset, that this trial was but a
latter act of that dismal tragedy, commonly called the Powder Treason,
for which several had already suffered the extreme penalty of the law.
Throughout the trial he treated Garnet with great respect. From Sir
Edward Coke’s speech we learn, that Garnet was examined for the first
time February 13th, and that from that day to the 26th of March, when
the last examination took place, he was examined before the council more
than twenty times.

In speaking of the treason, Sir Edward remarks, “I will call it the
jesuits’ treason, as belonging to them, both _ex congruo et condigno_:
they were the proprietaries, plotters, and procurers of it.” He then
enters on a description of some of the treasons, which were planned in
the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in which also Garnet was concerned, as I
have noticed in a preceding chapter. Garnet confessed several
particulars respecting those transactions in which he had been engaged;
and among other things he admitted that the Romanists in England, after
the bull of excommunication had been issued against the queen, were
permitted to render her obedience with certain cautions and limitations,
namely, _Rebus sic stantibus_, and _Donec publica bullæ executio fieret
posset_. So that while things continued in their present state, and till
such time as the bull could be executed, the Romanists might obey the
queen. This was confessed by Garnet himself.

It appears that Garnet came over into England in the year 1586, two
years before the sailing of the _Spanish Armada_. As early as the reign
of Edward the First, the bringing in of a bull from Rome against any of
the king’s subjects, without permission, was adjudged to be treason; so
that Garnet was a traitor by the ancient laws of the land, for the bulls
against King James were committed to the keeping of that individual. The
attorney-general had declared, when speaking of Elizabeth, that four
years had never passed without a treason: and he adds, when he speaks of
King James, “and now sithence the coming of great King James, there have
not passed, I will not say four years, but not four, nay not two months,
without some treason.” In these treasons Garnet and other jesuits were
implicated. The bulls which had been sent to Garnet before the death of
Elizabeth, and which were intended to prevent the English Romanists from
receiving any but a popish sovereign, were burnt by him, as already
mentioned, when he perceived that King James’s accession could not be
prevented. There would have been danger in preserving them, therefore
they were committed to the flames. The prisoner admitted that he had
destroyed them.

It was shown on the trial that Garnet was privy to the plot in various
ways. Though Catesby was the only layman with whom he would converse on
the subject, yet he did not hesitate to confer with his brother jesuits
respecting all the particulars. Greenwell pretended to confess himself
to Garnet his superior. Confession is appointed by the church of Rome to
be performed by the penitent in a kneeling posture; but it seems that,
on this occasion, the two parties walked together; and during this walk
Garnet heard all the particulars of the treason—how it was to be
executed—and what was to take place subsequently. It was proved also
that he had proposed writing to the pope on the subject, and that he met
Catesby and some other of the conspirators in Warwickshire. It will be
seen that he prayed for the success of the great action; and it is also
a certain fact, that all the English Romanists prayed for the success
of the plot, whatever it might be, which they knew was in agitation,
though they were not acquainted with its precise nature.

On the morning of November the 6th, when the plot had failed, Catesby
and some of the other conspirators sent Bates to Garnet, who was then in
Warwickshire, to entreat his assistance in stirring up the people to
open rebellion. Greenwell was at this time with Garnet. Warwickshire was
appointed to be the place of meeting after the plot; and on this account
the jesuits assembled in that county.

I have mentioned that Garnet admitted that he was acquainted with the
plot, though he pretended that it was revealed to him in confession, and
that consequently he was not at liberty to reveal it, a point which I
shall notice in a subsequent page. The means adopted to procure his
confession were curious, and perhaps not strictly justifiable. A trap
was set for the prisoner into which he readily fell.

For some time he would confess nothing. In those days it was customary
to extort confessions from prisoners, by means of torture, a mode long
since abolished in this country; but the king and his ministers did not
wish to render themselve obnoxious to the Romanists by resorting to the
rack. Instead, therefore, of using torture, they employed craft; and
though Garnet was an adept in the art of dissimilation, yet he was
outwitted on this occasion. An individual was appointed as the keeper of
the prisoner, who, by pretending to deplore the condition of the
Romanists in England, as well as by complaints against the king and his
ministers, at length succeeded in inducing Garnet to believe that he was
well affected to the church of Rome. Two letters were written by Garnet,
and entrusted to this man, the one addressed to a lady, the other to a
priest. In the former letter he mentioned what things he had already
admitted in his examinations; but the second letter was the more
important. The letter was written on a sheet of paper, and appeared to
contain matters only of an ordinary kind, such as any one might read. He
had, however, left a very broad margin, which circumstance excited
suspicion in the breasts of the council. Nor were these suspicions
without foundation; for on examining the letter, by holding it to the
fire, it was found that he had written on the margin with the juice of a
lemon, beseeching his friends to deny the truth of those things which he
had already confessed. He also expressed his hope, that he should escape
from the powder plot from want of proof; yet he had confessed to the
lords of the council, that he was guilty. It appears, however, that he
did not really expect to escape; for in this same letter he applies the
words of Caiaphas, who used them when speaking of the Saviour, to
himself, _Necesse est ut unus homo moriatur pro populo_.

This letter, written with his own hand, was shown to him at the trial.
It is still in existence. Some years ago it was discovered by Mr. Lemon
in the State Paper Office, where it is still preserved, not only as a
proof of Garnet’s guilt, but also as evidence, that the principles of
the church of Rome are not misrepresented by Protestant writers.

The man who had taken the charge of these letters conveyed them
immediately to the lords of the council. The object was to have some
public confession of his guilt on his trial. They were apprehensive that
he might deny even what he had privately stated to the lords, which was
much less than what he had admitted in these letters. The trap which had
been set for him by the sage counsellors of his majesty was not set in

But other evidence was soon produced. The individual to whom the letters
were entrusted gained his entire confidence. Garnet told him that he was
very anxious to see Hall, another jesuit, known also by the name of
Oldcorn, who was then confined in the same prison. The keeper promised
to arrange a meeting between them. For this purpose they were so placed,
that they could converse together, while he, to avoid suspicion, took a
position so as to be seen by both. At the same time two other
individuals were secreted in the prison sufficiently near to hear all
that passed between the prisoners. They conversed freely respecting
their previous confessions and examinations—the excuses and evasions
which they had prepared, and many other matters connected with the plot.
During the conversation Garnet remarked to Hall, “They will charge me
with my prayer for the good success of the great action, in the
beginning of the parliament, and with the verses which I added at the
end of my prayer.” He added, that in his defence he should state, that
the success for which he prayed related to the severe laws, which he
apprehended would, during the session, be enacted against the Romanists.
The verses alluded to were as follows:—

    Gentem auferte perfidam
    Credentium de finibus,
    Ut Christo laudes debitas,
    Persolvamus alacriter.

The next day Garnet and Hall were examined separately, when they were
charged with having held a private conference. Garnet denied the fact in
the most decided terms. The parties who heard the conversation were then
produced: nor could Garnet object anything against their statements.

Garnet said on his trial that he once thought of revealing the plot, but
not the conspirators. Cecil asked who hindered him from making the
discovery; to whom he replied, “You, yourself; for I knew you would have
racked this poor body of mine to pieces, to make me confess.” Fuller
remarks on this assertion and in allusion to the interview with Hall,
that “never any _rack_ was used on Garnet, except a _witrack_, wherewith
he was worsted, and this cunning archer outshot in his own bow. For
being in prison with _Father Oldcorn alias Hall_, they were put into an
_equivocating room_ (as I may term it) which pretended nothing but
privacy, yet had a reservation of some invisible persons within it, ear
witnesses to all the passages betwixt them.”

These confessions, denials, evasions, and palliations were defended by
Garnet under the plea of lawful _equivocation_, a doctrine then at least
taught very generally in the church of Rome. Under shelter of this plea
the jesuits were prepared, not merely to conceal or to deny any fact,
but also to aver what they knew to be false. It was urged, and in books
too, that such a course might be adopted on the ground that the parties
reserved in their own minds a secret and private sense. Thus any
question might be eluded: and this practice was publicly defended in a
treatise licensed by Garnet and Blackwall. Certain instances are given
in the work as illustrations of the doctrine. The following is one of
these cases. A man arrives at a certain place, and is examined on oath
at the gate, whether he came from London, where the plague is supposed
to be raging at the time. The man, knowing that the plague is not in
London, or that he did no more than pass through that city, may swear
that he did not come from London. It is argued, that such an answer
would agree with their intention, who proposed the question simply with
a view to ascertaining, whether their own city would be endangered by
his entrance. Such was the doctrine of equivocation, under the plea of
which Garnet sheltered himself when he denied many things which were
proved against him, and which he had himself confessed. Even Sir Everard
Digby resorted to this papal doctrine of equivocation, as will be seen
from the following extracts from his letters discovered in 1675, and
published by Bishop Barlow, in 1679:—“Yesterday I was before Mr.
Attorney and my Lord Chief Justice, who asked me if I had taken the
sacrament to keep secret the plot as others did. I said that I had not,
because I would avoid the question of at whose hands it were.”—“I have
not as yet acknowledged the knowledge of any priest in particular, nor
will not do to the hurt of any but myself, whatsoever betide me.”
Speaking of a particular priest, he says in another letter; “I have not
been asked his name, which if I had, should have been such a one as I
knew not of.” Again; “If I be called to question for the priest, I
purpose to name him Winscombe, unless I be advised otherwise.” And,
alluding to the same in a subsequent letter—“You forget to tell me
whether Winscombe be a fit name. I like it, for I know none of it.” In
another letter—“As yet they have not got of me the affirming that I
know any priest particularly, nor shall ever do to the hurt of any one
but myself.” It is evident that he deemed it lawful to deny anything
calculated to bring reproach on his church; and that he did not scruple
to give a false name on his examination. From the manner in which he
speaks, there can be no doubt, that he believed he might lawfully
equivocate. And from whom had he learned this monstrous doctrine? From
the church and her authorized teachers!!

The earl of Salisbury alluded on the trial to his denial of the
conversation with Hall, reminding him that he was not questioned as to
the matter of their conferences, but simply as to the fact. Hall
confessed the fact, and Garnet, though he had so strongly denied it,
then admitted the whole. On being reminded of the matter by Cecil, he
replied, that when a man is asked a question before a magistrate he is
not bound to give an answer _quia nemo tenetur prodere seipsum_.

Tresham, who died in the Tower, accused Garnet of a previous treason in
entering into a league with the king of Spain against England. Before
his death he was permitted to see his wife, who was aware of his
confession respecting Garnet. Under her influence he dictated to his
servant, being too weak to use a pen himself, that he had not seen
Garnet during the last sixteen years, and retracted his previous
confession in which he admitted the contrary. Now it was proved, and
acknowledged by Garnet, that they had met several times within the last
two years. Garnet was asked to explain Tresham’s conduct; and his reply
was, “I think he meant to equivocate.”

Tresham died within three hours after dictating this letter. Mrs. Vaux,
however, confessed that she had seen Tresham with Garnet at her house
three or four times since the accession of King James, and that they had
dined together with her. Garnet also publicly acknowledged that he had
seen Tresham. A second confession of Mrs Vaux’s was also read in the
court, in which she admits that she was with Garnet at Tresham’s house
in Northamptonshire not long since.

Garnet made a long defence at the bar; and on the question of
equivocation he defended himself with much subtilty. He declared that
the church of Rome condemned lying; but he justified equivocation,
which, he said, was “to defend the use of certain propositions. For a
man may be asked of one, who hath no authority to interrogate or
examine, concerning something which belongeth not to his cognizance who
asketh, as what a man thinketh, &c. So then no man may equivocate when
he ought to tell the truth, otherwise he may.” When he was reminded that
he had denied that he had written to Tesmond _alias_ Greenwell, or sent
messages to him, he said he would not have denied his letters if he had
known that the lords had seen them; but supposing that they had not
been seen he did deny them, and that he might lawfully do so. This has
been confirmed by the papers in the State Paper Office. There is amongst
these papers an original letter, in Garnet’s own hand, to Mrs. Vaux, in
which he acknowledged that he was so pressed by the testimony of two
witnesses who overheard the conversation between Hall and himself, that
he was, at length, determined to confess all rather than stand the
torture or trial by witnesses.

Garnet endeavoured to shelter himself from the guilt of the plot, under
the plea, that the treason was revealed to him under the seal of
confession. At first he endeavoured to deny that he was acquainted with
any particulars; but being forced from this subterfuge, he admitted his
knowledge, but contended that he was bound to conceal all that he knew.
He acknowledged also that he had concealed the treason with Spain.
“Only,” says he, “I must needs confess, I did conceal it after the
example of Christ, who commands us, when our brother offends to reprove
him, for if he do amend we have gained him.” With respect to the Powder
Treason he acknowledged, that Greenwell came to him in great perplexity
in consequence of what Catesby had intimated. He consented to hear it,
provided the fact of his doing so should not be revealed to Catesby, or
to any other person. Greenwell then revealed the whole plot. He
confessed that he was greatly distressed on the subject, “and sometimes
prayed to God that it should not take effect.” On being questioned why
he did not reveal the conspiracy he stated that, “he might not disclose
it to any, because it was matter of secret confession, and would
endanger the lives of divers men.” Cecil said, “I pray you, Mr. Garnet,
what encouraged Catesby that he might proceed, but your resolving him in
the first proposition? What warranted Faukes, but Catesby’s explication
of Garnet’s arguments? As appears infallibly by Winter’s confession,
and by Faukes, that they knew the point had been resolved to Mr.
Catesby, by the best authority.” It was evident, therefore, that he did
not merely conceal the matter; but that he was an active instigator of
the conspiracy.[22]

    [Footnote 22: Mr. Hallam observes; “The Catholic writers
    maintain that he had no knowledge of the conspiracy, except by
    having heard it in confession. But this rests altogether on his
    word; and the prevarication of which he has been proved to be
    guilty (not to mention the damning circumstance that he was
    taken at Hendlip in concealment along with the other
    conspirators), makes it difficult for a candid man to acquit him
    of a thorough participation in their guilt.”—_Const. Hist._ i.

With respect to Garnet’s knowledge of the conspiracy, it is perfectly
clear that the matter was not merely revealed in confession, but that he
was one of the actors therein. Nor was the plea of confession consistent
with some of his own declarations during his examinations. He admitted,
that the treason was mentioned to him in the way of consultation, as a
thing not yet executed; and moreover Greenwell did not implicate
himself; he merely told of others, and consequently the seal of
confession would not have been broken, even if Garnet had revealed the
whole to the government. He chose, however, on his trial, to adopt this
line of defence, namely, that he was not at liberty to disclose anything
which was revealed to him in sacramental confession. One of the lords
asked him if a man should confess to-day, that he intended to kill the
king to-morrow with a dagger, whether he must conceal the matter? Garnet
replied that he must conceal it. Parsons, the jesuit, maintains the same
opinion. Speaking of Garnet, he remarks, that nothing was proved, “but
that the prisoner had received only a simple notice of that treason, by
such a means as he could not utter and reveal again by the laws of
Catholic doctrine, that is to say, in _confession_, and this but a very
few days before the discovery, but yet never gave any consent, help,
hearkening, approbation, or co-operation to the same; but contrariwise
sought to dissuade, dehort, and hinder the designment by all the means
he could. He, dying for the bare concealing of that, which, by God’s,
and the church’s ecclesiastical laws, he could not disclose, and giving
no consent or co-operation to the treason itself, should have been
accounted rather a _martyr_ than a _traitor_.”—See an answer to Sir
EDWARD COKE’S _Reports_, 4to. 1606.

It is remarkable that in a treatise published A.D. 1600, on auricular
confession, a case is put to this effect; namely, whether if a
confederate discover, in confession, that he or his companions have
secretly deposited gunpowder under a particular house, and that the
_prince_ will be destroyed unless it is removed, the priest ought to
reveal it. The writer replies in the negative, and fortifies his opinion
by the authority of a bull of Clement VIII., against violating the seal
of confession. This treatise was published at _Louvain_. Bishop Kennet
remarks on this treatise, in his Sermon, November 5th, 1715, that it
appeared “as if the writer had already looked into the cellar and had
surveyed the powder, and had heard the confessions of the conspirators.”

The proceedings were at length brought to a close; and judgment was
demanded against the prisoner. When the clerk of the crown asked what he
had to say why judgment should not be given, Garnet replied that “he
could say nothing, but referred himself to the mercy of the king and God
Almighty.” Judgment was pronounced in the usual form, that the prisoner
should be hanged, drawn, and quartered.

On the third of May 1606, the prisoner was executed on a scaffold
erected at the west end of St. Paul’s church-yard. Overal, dean of St.
Paul’s, with the dean of Winchester, exhorted him to make a plain
confession to the world of the offence of which he had been convicted.
Garnet desired them not to trouble him, as he came prepared to die, and
was resolved what he should do. The recorder asked if he had anything to
say to the people before his death, reminding him that it was not the
time to dissemble, and that his treasons were manifest to the world.
Garnet evidently had no wish to address the crowd; and without refusing
the permission, he alleged that his voice was weak, his strength
exhausted, and that the people would be unable to hear him, except in
the immediate vicinity of the scaffold. To those who stood near,
however, he said that the intention was wicked, and the fact would have
been cruel, and that he entirely abhorred it. He was reminded that he
had confessed his own participation in the plot. It was also stated,
that he had acknowledged, under his own hand, that Greenway had asked
him who should be protector? and that he had replied that the matter was
to be deferred until the blow was actually struck. He confessed that he
had erred in not revealing all that he knew of the plot; but he refused
to make any further declaration on the scaffold.

He kneeled down at the foot of the ladder; but so distracted was he
during his prayer, that he constantly paused and looked about him, as if
in expectation of a pardon. He now expressed his sorrow in dissembling
with the lords, but justified himself by saying, that he was not aware
that they were in possession of such proofs against him. Then exhorting
all Romanists to abstain from treasonable practices, he was launched
into eternity.

Garnet was viewed as a martyr by his church after his death. Yet he had
confessed himself guilty. When asked by some of the lords on his
examination, if he approved that the church of Rome should one day
declare him a martyr, he cried, _Martyrem me, O qualem Martyrem_. The
church of Rome could not declare him a martyr however, unless they could
allege that a miracle had been wrought at his death, or subsequent to
it. A miracle therefore was feigned, in order to pave the way into the
martyrology. This circumstance I will now relate.

While the body was quartered by the executioner, some drops of blood
fell upon the straw with which the scaffold was strewed. A man of the
name of Wilkinson, who was present, was anxious to preserve some relic
of the deceased, and therefore carried home with him some of the straws
sprinkled with Garnet’s blood. These relics were committed to the care
of a woman, who preserved them under a glass case. Wilkinson had come
over from St. Omer’s on purpose to be present at the execution. It was
reported, that the straws which had been carried away by Wilkinson
leaped up from the scaffold, or from the basket in which the dissevered
head was deposited, upon his person. Some weeks after, on examining the
straws, the parties pretended, that they discovered a likeness of Garnet
on one of the husks which contained the grain. Wilkinson and several
other persons asserted that they perceived a likeness. The matter was
soon noised abroad, and the Romanists proclaimed that a miracle had been
wrought. It was thought necessary to institute an examination into the
matter; and accordingly several witnesses gave their evidence before the
archbishop of Canterbury. Some persons had reported, that the head on
the ear of corn was surrounded with _glory_, or with streaming rays; but
Griffith, the husband of the woman who had preserved the straw,
declared, before the archbishop, that he discovered nothing of the sort,
and that the face was no more like Garnet’s than that of any other man
who had a beard. Another witness deposed, that he believed that a good
artisan could have drawn a better likeness.

The matter, however, was not permitted to be forgotten; and at Rome a
print of the straw was published and publicly exhibited. Some months
afterwards Garnet was declared to be a martyr by the pope; in which
light he is still regarded by Romanists. The miracle was undoubtedly
intended to afford the pope an excuse for his _beatification_, which is
the lowest degree of celestial dignity. “This he did,” says Fuller, “to
qualify the infamy of Garnet’s death, and that the perfume of this new
title might outscent the stench of his treason.”

The Romanists of that day made the most of this miracle. In a work
published soon after, entitled, _The True Christian Catholic_, it is
boldly asserted that the sight of Garnet’s straw caused at least five
hundred persons to embrace the Roman Catholic faith. The miracle was
published in all the Romanist states; but in England, it was said, that
the man who had been educated at Rome, and commissioned to enter into a
conspiracy against his native country, deserved to be pictured in blood.

It appears from Osborne, a contemporary writer, that more than one
likeness was pretended. From his statement it seems, that it was
circulated, that all the husks in the ears on the straws bore similar
impressions of Garnet’s features. Osborne says, that he had had some of
these straws in his hand; but that he could discover no resemblance to a
human face; “yet,” says he, “these no doubt are sold and pass at this
day for relics, as I know they did twenty years after, and he for a holy

    [Footnote 23: OSBORNE’S _Works_, p. 436.]

Many false reports were circulated on the Continent respecting his
death. It was said that he evinced much readiness to die, whereas he
manifested great fear. It was also reported that the people interposed
and prevented the executioner from quartering him while he was alive,
but this favour was granted by the command of the king; that the crowd
nearly destroyed the hangman, whereas no violence of any sort was used;
and that the people were perfectly silent when the head was held up on
the scaffold, whereas that act was attended with loud acclamations. On
the contrary, the people were with difficulty restrained from taking the
law into their own hands, and inflicting summary punishment. The people
also understood that Spain and the pope had been plotting with the
traitors; and so high was their indignation, that it was necessary for
the Spanish ambassador to apply to the government for a guard to protect
him from the fury of the populace. These reports were intended to divert
attention from his crime, and from the ignominy of his death. That
Garnet was a traitor against his sovereign and his country, cannot be
denied by any Romanists, without resorting to the usual arts and
sophistry of the jesuits, who contrive to deny anything which it may be
inconvenient to acknowledge. Yet Bellarmine has defended him on the
ground that the treason was revealed in confession: “Why,” says he, “was
Henry Garnet, a man incomparable for learning in all kinds and holiness
of life, put to death, but because he would not reveal that which he
could not with a safe conscience?” Garnet, however, as has been shown,
acknowledged that he ought to have revealed it; and besides, it was
proved on the trial, that he was acquainted with the treason by other
means than confession. He admitted that the plot was revealed to him as
they were walking, and consequently not under the seal of confession.

The recently discovered papers in the State Paper Office, confirm all
the charges advanced against Garnet and the other conspirators at their
trial. In these documents there is an account of Garnet’s examination.
He is asked whether he took Greenwell’s discovery of the plot to be in
confession or not? he answered, “Not in confession, but by way of

It has already been proved that, by the ancient laws even, it was
treason to bring in a bull from Rome; yet Garnet acknowledged that he
held three such documents at King James’s accession. And on his trial,
he justified himself, or rather palliated his offence, by stating, that
he had shown them to very few of his own party, when he understood that
the king was peaceably put in possession of the throne. He committed the
bulls to the flames, but not till he had ascertained that they could not
be executed, and that it would be dangerous to retain them, lest they
should be discovered in the event of his being taken.

I have already alluded to the mode, in which the continuator of Sir
James Mackintosh’s _History of England_ in _Lardner’s Cyclopædia_,
writes the history of his country. Another short sentence respecting
Garnet, will show how utterly regardless the writer is of truth in his
statements: “His guilt or innocence is a question of dispute to this
day.” He gives a reference to Lingard; but the words are not given as a
quotation. Yet Garnet acknowledged his guilt, and it was clearly proved
on the trial. Thus, in a history intended for popular use, the guilt of
a notorious offender is questioned, and the principles of the church of
Rome indirectly defended. The writer further remarks,—“that Garnet’s
admissions were obtained by the most perfidious and cruel acts of the
inquisition; that conviction under the circumstances of his trial, is
scarcely a presumption of guilt.” This is exactly the strain in which
Romanists are accustomed to speak of the plot. In short, the writer has
written as a Romanist, and appears to have followed Lingard in every
particular. Is such a man qualified to write a history for popular use?
But to disprove all his assertions on this point, I simply quote a
passage from the _Trial_, which will prove that no cruel means were
resorted to in the case of Garnet. In addressing Garnet, the earl of
Salisbury said: “You do best know that since your apprehension, even
till this day, you have been as Christianly, as courteously, and as
carefully used, as ever man could be, of any quality, or any profession;
yea, it may truly be said, that you have been as well attended for
health or otherwise, as a nurse-child. Is it true or no?” said the earl.
“It is most true, my lord,” said Garnet, “I confess it.” Now, I ask,
what dependence can be placed on the continuator of the history in
question? Yet such men are employed in the present day to write books
for popular use.



In this chapter I purpose to give a short account of those principles,
on which the conspirators acted, and which were regarded by them as
those of their church. I am ready to allow, that many Roman Catholics
deprecated the plot and the course taken by the conspirators; but still
it is by no means easy to defend the church of Rome from the guilt of
the transaction, since she then entertained principles, which appeared
to justify the attempt of the parties who were implicated in the
treason. That the jesuits were the life and soul of the conspiracy has
already been shown in the narrative. They animated the conspirators when
they were dispirited,—warranted the proposed action when they were in
doubt,—and absolved them from its guilt after the discovery. Nay, they
pronounced the deed to be meritorious. They swore them to secresy, and
bound them together to the performance of the treason by means of the
sacrament. The great wheels, therefore, by which the whole was set in
motion, were the jesuits; but the arch-traitor was the pope himself, who
had sent his bulls into England, to endeavour to prevent the accession
of King James; for it has been shown that the treason originated in
those bulls.

I shall _first_ briefly state the principles of the church of Rome, on
the question of heresy and heretical sovereigns; and _secondly_, examine
their practices prior to, and at the period in question, to show how
they corresponded exactly with the principles then publicly avowed and

It is an acknowledged principle of the church of Rome, that the
decisions of general councils are binding on all. There are disputes
amongst her divines respecting some of the councils, whether they were
general, or not; but concerning the decisions of those councils which
have never been disputed, there is no question with Romanists. Now some
of the undisputed councils enforce doctrines at variance with Scripture,
and destructive, not merely of the welfare, but of the very existence,
of Protestant states and Protestant sovereigns, provided the papal see
is sufficiently powerful to carry out her principles into action. No
king was completely master in his own dominions, when the papacy was at
its height.

The first council to which I refer the reader is _The Third Council of
Lateran_, convened by Pope Alexander III., A.D. 1179. Its efforts were
directed especially against the Albigenses and Waldenses, who were
guilty of no crime, except the unpardonable one of opposing the errors
of the church of Rome. Twenty-seven canons were framed by this council;
all of them on matters of trivial importance with the exception of the
last, which is directed against the poor exiles who were bold enough to
prefer their own salvation to a blind submission to the church. The
_Twenty-seventh_ canon imposes a curse on all those who maintained or
favoured the Waldensian opinions. In the event of dying in their alleged
errors, they were not even to receive Christian burial[24].

    [Footnote 24: “Although ecclesiastical discipline, being content
    with the judgment of the priests, does not take sanguinary
    revenge, yet it is assisted by the decrees of Catholic princes,
    that men may often seek a saving remedy, through fear of
    corporal punishment. On this account we decree to subject them
    (the heretics) and their defenders to anathema: and, under pain
    of anathema, we forbid that any receive them into his house, or
    have any dealings with them. Nor let them receive burial among
    Christians.” See the original, _Labb. et Coss._, Tom. x.

The fourth council of Lateran was held A.D. 1215. One of its canons,
the _Third_, is even more horrible than the preceding. All heretics are
excommunicated, and delivered over to the secular arm for punishment;
while temporal princes are enjoined to extirpate heresy by all means in
their power[25]. This exterminating canon is still unrepealed, and may
be acted on whenever the church of Rome may have the power to enforce
it. It has been attempted in modern times to deny the genuineness of the
_Third Canon_; but the attempt was unsuccessful. It has also been
pronounced _obsolete_. It is undoubtedly inoperative, simply because the
church cannot carry it into execution; but it is still the law of the
Roman church.

    [Footnote 25: “We excommunicate and condemn every heresy, which
    exalteth itself against this holy and Catholic Faith. Let such
    persons, when condemned, be left to the secular powers, to be
    punished in a fitting manner. And let the secular powers be
    admonished, and, if need be, compelled, that they should set
    forth an oath, that to the utmost of their power, they will
    strive to exterminate all heretics, who shall be denounced by
    the church. But if any temporal lord shall neglect to cleanse
    his country of this heretical filth, let him be bound by the
    chain of excommunication. If he shall scorn to make
    satisfaction, let it be signified to the supreme pontiff, that
    he may declare his vassals to be absolved from their fidelity.”
    _Labb. et Coss._ Tom. xi. 147-9. This canon was also received
    into the _Canon Law_, by Gregory IX. It was carried into effect
    against the Albigenses.]

The council of Constance, A.D. 1415, decided that faith was not to be
kept with heretics to the prejudice of the church; and, therefore, John
Huss was committed to the flames, in violation of the solemn promise of
the emperor.

By these councils all heretics are devoted to destruction. They proclaim
principles exactly similar to those on which the conspirators acted;—in
other words, the conspirators acted on the principles promulgated by
these councils, as those of the church of Rome. On these principles did
the jesuits justify the treason, and declare the traitors innocent.

Attempts are made in modern times to prove that the canons alluded to
are not binding on the church; but the hand of Providence has made the
church of Rome set her seal to her own condemnation in this matter; for
by the decrees of the council of Trent every papist is pledged to
receive the decisions of all general councils[26]. The only question,
therefore, to be decided is this, namely, whether these councils are
regarded as _general_ by the church of Rome. Respecting the _third_ and
_fourth_ Lateran councils there never was any doubt; and the creed of
Pope Pius IV., as well as the council of Trent, expressly enjoins the
reception of the decrees of all general councils[27]. It is very
remarkable, nay, I may say providential, that the Fourth Lateran council
is especially alluded to by the council of Trent. One of the decisions
of this very council is specified and renewed by the Trent decrees. The
church of Rome has declared, therefore, by her last council,—a council,
too, by which all her doctrines were unalterably fixed,—that the
Lateran council is to be received by all her members; and, as if to
prevent all cavil on the subject, and also to prevent any Romanist from
saying that this council was not a general one, and consequently not
binding on the church, the council of Trent has expressly designated it
a general council. And still further, as if to remove all doubt on the
subject, the council of Trent has particularly specified one of the
Lateran decrees, by quoting the first two words. The language of the
council is remarkable: “All other decrees made by Julius the Third, as
also the constitution of Pope Innocent the Third, in a general council,
which commences _Qualiter et Quando_, which this holy synod renews,
shall be observed by all[28].” Two things are here to be noted. First,
the council held under Innocent III. is expressly termed a general
council; and this council was the _Fourth Lateran_. Secondly, a
particular canon of the council is specified and renewed, so that no
doubt can possibly exist as to the particular council to which the
reference is made. It is not possible to establish any point with
greater precision than this, that the charge of holding persecuting and
exterminating doctrines is fastened upon the church of Rome, by these
decrees of the council of Trent.

    [Footnote 26: “The holy synod decrees and commends, that the
    holy canons, and all general councils, and also all
    constitutions of the Apostolic See, which have been made in
    favour of ecclesiastical persons and of ecclesiastical liberty,
    and against the infringers of it, (all of which it revives by
    this present decree,) be exactly observed by all, as they ought
    to be.” _Conc. Trent._, Sess. xxv., _De Ref._, Can. 20. It is
    observable, too, that emperors and kings are commanded to
    observe these canons. This is surely a revival of the Lateran

    [Footnote 27: The creed is most explicit on this subject: “I do
    undoubtedly receive and profess all other things which have been
    delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred canons, and
    œcumenical councils, and especially by the holy synod of Trent;
    and all other things contrary thereto, and all heresies
    condemned, rejected, and anathematized by the church, I do
    likewise condemn, reject, and anathematize.”]

    [Footnote 28: _Council of Trent_, sess. xxiv., cap. 5. It is
    therefore vain for any papist to pretend, in the face of such
    authority, that there is a doubt whether the Lateran was a
    general council. In all the editions of the councils it is so
    designated; it is found in the list of councils appended to the
    editions of the canon law; and in the canon law itself it is
    thus reckoned. It is recognised by the council of Constance; and
    last, though not least, by the council of Trent itself.]

The reader will also perceive that the council of Trent revives and
confirms all the constitutions of the apostolic see; that is, all the
determinations of the canon law. It would be easy to justify persecution
and death from innumerable portions of the canon law. And how can any
Romanist allege that the canon law is not binding, when it is expressly
confirmed by the council of Trent? It includes all the bulls and decrees
of the popes. None of the persecuting decrees have been repealed; and
until the church of Rome renounces them by a solemn and public act, she
will be obnoxious to the charge of maintaining the duty of persecuting
heretics. None of the laws respecting heresy have ever been relaxed; no
sovereign was ever censured for punishing heretics; no council has ever
relieved the papal sovereigns from the execution of the laws to which I
have alluded; nor was any one ever condemned by the head of the church
for putting Protestants to death. Until, therefore, Rome repeals her
exterminating decrees, she must submit to the heavy charge of
maintaining the right to persecute men for their religious belief.

It is well known that the BULL IN CŒNA DOMINI is read in the hearing of
the pope every Maunday Thursday. By that bull all Protestants are
excommunicated and anathematized; and will any one say that the church
of Rome would not execute the sentence of excommunication if she
possessed the power? To assert the contrary assuredly argues either
great obstinacy or egregious folly.

To the bull _In Cœna Domini_ may be added the oath to the pope taken by
every bishop on his elevation to the episcopal dignity, by which he
engages to _persecute and attack heretics_.

Such are the principles of the Romish church as embodied in her councils
and her canon law. If they are true, then the gunpowder conspirators
were justified in their proceedings, nay, they were acting a meritorious
part in the prosecution of that design.

Nor have the doctors and eminent supporters of that church hesitated to
avow the same principles in days that are past, though in modern times,
it has been attempted to deny them, or explain them away. How modern
Romanists can consistently deny that such doctrines are enjoined by
their church, appears to me inexplicable, except on the jesuitical
principle of equivocation, which will enable them to pursue any course
calculated to advance the interests of the apostolic see; and though
Romanists generally repudiate such doctrines, yet it is asserted in the
theology of Dens, and taught at Maynooth, and doubtless in other similar
institutions, that heretics are the subjects of the church of Rome[29].
A host of writers might be alleged, who assert that it is lawful to
punish heretics with death. So numerous are the passages in Romish
authors on this topic, and so well known, that I abstain from any
quotations. Still I will meet an objection not unfrequently alleged by
Romanists, when pressed in an argument by the authority of names in high
repute in their church, namely, that “the church is not bound by the
views of particular individuals.” The views of these individuals,
however, are those of the church, as I have already proved. But further,
why are not these views censured if the church does not maintain them?
The church of Rome has published an _Index Prohibitorum_, in which all
Protestant works are included; and an _Index Expurgatorius_, in which
many passages in the works of well known Romanists are marked for
erasure as containing sentiments akin to those of the Protestant
churches. As, therefore, the church of Rome has not hesitated to expunge
passages from the writings of her own members, when she has deemed them
at variance with her principles, why, if she views those portions of the
works to which I allude, and which enforce the persecution of heretics
even to death, to be erroneous, does she not adopt the same process
respecting them? As she has not done so, the undoubted inference is,
that these writings are not disapproved of by the church. It is not
possible for any Romanist to object to this line of argument; nor can
it be charged with unfairness.

    [Footnote 29: DENS. ii. 288. Reiffenstuel quotes the third canon
    of the fourth Lateran no less than eighteen times in one
    chapter, and he declares that impenitent heretics are to be put
    to death. This work is a class-book at Maynooth.]

Nearly allied to the punishment of heresy is the question of the pope’s
deposing power. It is asserted in the canons already quoted, and which
cannot be disputed; and it is also asserted by numerous writers, whose
works have never been censured in an _Index Expurgatorius_. Bellarmine
says, “It is agreed upon amongst all, that the pope may lawfully depose
heretical princes and free their subjects from yielding obedience to
them.” Can it be denied, therefore, that such was the doctrine of the
church of Rome in the time of Bellarmine? And if such was the doctrine
of that church then, it must be the doctrine of the same church now,
since none of her articles of faith have been changed, none of her
doctrines have been repudiated. It is true that the doctrine is not
insisted on by modern Romanists; but what security have we that the
claim would not be revived if the church of Rome should ever possess
sufficient power to enforce it? We must therefore insist on charging
these and similar doctrines on the church of Rome, until she renounces
them by a solemn and public decision.

Tillotson’s observations on this question, in his sermon on the fifth of
November, are so just that I shall make no apology for quoting them.
“Indeed, this doctrine hath not been at all times alike frankly and
openly avowed; but it is undoubtedly theirs, and hath frequently been
put in execution, though they have not thought it so convenient at all
times to make profession of it. It is a certain kind of engine, which is
to be screwed up or let down as occasion serves: and is commonly kept
like Goliah’s sword in the sanctuary behind the ephod, but yet so that
the high-priest can lend it out upon an extraordinary occasion. And for
practices consonant to these doctrines, I shall go no further than the
horrid and bloody design of this day.”

It is singular that there is no express mention of the deposing power in
the council of Trent. The pope and the fathers perceived that times were
already altered, that sovereigns were not likely to submit tamely to
such an assumption of authority, and that their proceedings must be
managed with more craft than formerly. Still the deposing power was
established by implication, in the ratification of the decrees of the
Lateran council; and we know that it was exercised at a subsequent
period against Queen Elizabeth. Parsons declared, in the reign of Queen
Elizabeth, that it was the doctrine of all learned men, and agreeable to
the apostolic injunctions; and that the power of deposing kings has not
only been claimed, but acted upon, may easily be proved. It was not
always treated as a speculative doctrine. History shows that many wars
have been waged through this very principle. In some cases the papal
sentence has been carried into effect, and in others it has led to war
and bloodshed, some states having always been ready to attempt to carry
the sentence into effect.

The following list will show how frequently the Roman pontiffs in the
days of their glory, claimed and exercised the power of deposing

  1075. Gregory VII. deposed Henry IV. the emperor.
  1088. Urban II. deposed Philip, king of France.
  1154. Adrian IV. deposed _William_, king of Sicily.
  1198. Innocent III. deposed the Emperor Philip, and King John
        of England.
  1227. Gregory IX. deposed the Emperor Frederic II.
  1242. Innocent IV. deposed the emperor.
  1261. Urban IV. deposed Manphred, king of Sicily.
  1277. Nicholas III. deposed Charles, king of Sicily.
  1281. Martin IV. deposed Peter of Arragon.
  1284. Boniface VIII. deprived Philip the Fair[30].
  1305. Clement V. deposed the Emperor Henry V.
  1316. John XXII. deprived the Emperor Lodovic.
  1409. Alexander V. deposed the king of Naples.
  1538. Paul III. deprived Henry VIII. of England.
  1570. Pius V. deprived Queen Elizabeth, as did also some of his

    [Footnote 30: This pope in his bull says, _“We declare and
    pronounce it as necessary to salvation, that all mankind be
    subject to the Roman pontiff.”_ This bull is a part of the
    _canon law_.]

This is a sample of papal attempts against kings; and it proves that the
popes have always lost sight of St. Peter’s character, though acting as
his successors. Our own sovereigns have often felt the weight of the
papal power. King Edgar was enjoined by Dunstan, the abbot of
Glastonbury, not to wear his crown for seven years, to which he was
compelled to submit. Henry II. was forced to walk barefooted three miles
to visit Becket’s shrine, and there to receive fourscore lashes from the
monks on his bare back. King John was compelled to resign his crown to
the pope’s legate, and take it back on condition of paying a yearly sum
of a thousand marks to the pope.

The pages of history are pregnant with proofs that, from the period of
the Reformation, down to the time when the papacy became shorn of much
of its strength, the practices of the church have exactly corresponded
with the principles asserted in the canons already specified, in the
canon law, and in the works of their eminent writers. I have alluded to
the bulls issued against Elizabeth, and to the attempts of nations, and
of individuals, to enforce them. Elizabeth escaped; but several
continental sovereigns fell a sacrifice to the fury of the church of
Rome. Henry III., of France, was murdered in 1589, by a Dominican
friar, who was encouraged to the commission of the act by the prior of
his convent. Henry was a member of the church of Rome; but he was not so
zealous as the pope wished, in executing the laws against heretics. On
account, therefore, of his supposed want of zeal, he was devoted to
destruction by the church. The deed was lauded in sermons and in books,
throughout the French territories; while the murderer, who was destroyed
on the spot, was deemed a martyr in the cause of the church. At Rome,
the fact was applauded by the pope in a set speech to the cardinals. The
act was contrasted by his holiness, with those of Eleazar and Judith,
and the palm was given to the friar. Nay, it was compared in greatness
to the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. I give the following
extract from this most blasphemous speech:—

“Considering seriously with myself, and applying myself to these things
which are now come to pass, I may use the words of the prophet Habbakuk:
‘Behold, ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously; for
I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be
told you;’ i. 5. The French king is slain by the hands of a friar. For
unto this it may be compared, though the prophet spake of our Lord’s
incarnation. This is a memorable and almost incredible thing, not
accomplished without the particular providence of God. A friar has
killed a king. That the king is dead, is credible; but that he is killed
in such a manner is hardly credible: even as we assert that Christ is
born of a woman; but if we add of a virgin; then, according to human
reason, we cannot assent to it. This great work is to be ascribed to a
particular providence.”

In this strain did the head of the Roman church laud the murder of Henry
III. of France. The deed was reckoned by his holiness as glorious a
work as the incarnation of the Saviour, and his resurrection from the
dead. Surely, the principles and practices of the church, were in exact
correspondence at that time. The principles have never been
relinquished; but circumstances control the actions of the church, so
that she cannot kill and slay with impunity.

Henry IV. of France also fell a sacrifice to the same principles. He had
been an advocate of Protestant doctrines; but from motives of human
policy he united himself with the church of Rome. Still, as he did not
persecute his Protestant subjects, the sincerity of his conversion was
called in question by the church. In less than one month after his
public profession of the papal faith, an attempt was made on his life by
an assassin, who had been encouraged by the reasonings of certain friars
and jesuits. After several escapes, he was stabbed in the street, by a
man who had formerly been a monk. His death was not celebrated publicly
by the pope, as was that of Henry III., but the jesuits and the friars
justified the act, and proved that, on the principles of the church, it
was lawful to put him to death, though a Romanist, since he was not
zealous against heresy, and in the cause of the papal see. King Henry
had also communicated secret information to Cecil, prior to the
discovery of the Gunpowder Treason, respecting the machinations of the
jesuits and seminary priests. The particulars of their treason were
unknown; but the very fact that the French monarch should convey
intelligence to King James, was a deadly crime in the eyes of the
jesuits. It was supposed at the time, and nothing has since transpired
to lead to a different conclusion, that the part he acted, in
communicating information to the English court, hastened his tragical
end. I have remarked, that the pope did not publicly applaud the act of
the assassin; but it is a fact, that his memory was in consequence held
in great veneration at Rome, for a considerable period after the event.
Henry was supposed to be lukewarm in the cause, and therefore it was
determined to remove him out of the way. The assassins of both these
monarchs acknowledged, that they were prompted to commit the murders, by
the instigation of two jesuits, and the reading of the works of a third.

The massacre of St. Bartholomew is too well known to need the recital of
its horrid particulars. I allude to it merely to show how the principles
and practices of the church of Rome correspond, whenever she has the
power to act. The deed was applauded at Rome, by the head of the church.
The crime was consecrated by the pope, who went in grand procession to
church, to return thanks to God for so great a blessing as the
destruction of the heretics.

It appears that the tidings of the massacre reached Rome on the 6th of
September, 1572. The consistory of cardinals was immediately assembled,
when the letter from the papal legate, containing the particulars of the
massacre, was read. It was immediately determined to repair to the
church of St. Mark, where their solemn thanks were offered up to God for
this great blessing. Two days after, the pope and cardinals went in
procession to the church of Minerva, when high mass was celebrated. The
pope also granted a jubilee to all Christendom, and one reason assigned
was, _that they should thank God for the slaughter of the enemies of the
church, lately executed in France_. Two days later, the cardinal of
Lorraine headed another great procession of cardinals, clergy, and
ambassadors, to the chapel of St. Lewis, where he himself celebrated
mass. In the name of the king of France, the cardinal thanked the pope
and the cardinals, for the aid they had afforded his majesty by their
counsels and prayers, of which he had experienced the happy effects. On
his own part, and on the part of the church, the pope sent a legate to
thank the king for his zeal in the extirpation of the heretics, and to
beseech him to persevere in the great and holy work. The legate, in
passing through France, gave a plenary absolution to all who had been
actors in the massacre. On the evening of the day on which the news
arrived at Rome, the guns were fired from the castle of St. Angelo; and
the same rejoicings were practised as were common on receiving the
intelligence of an important victory. The pope looked upon the massacre,
as one of the greatest felicities which could have happened at the
beginning of his papacy.

In addition to these public rejoicings on the part of the pope and his
cardinals at Rome, other means were adopted to indicate the sense of the
church on the massacre. Medals were struck to commemorate the event. On
the one side was a representation of the slaughter, an angel cutting
down the heretics, and on the other, the head of the pope, Gregory XIII.
On these medals, was this inscription, _“Ugonottorum Strages, 1572.”_
The slaughter was also deemed worthy of being commemorated on tapestry,
which was placed in the pope’s chapel. In the paintings which were
executed, the slaughter of the Huguenots was depicted, _“Colignii et
Sociorum cædes;”_ and in another part, _“Rex Colignii cædam probat.”_

Let it be remembered that the principles of the church of Rome are
unchanged, and, as the Romanists themselves aver, unchangeable. The
circumstances of Europe are widely different from what they were in the
sixteenth century; and Romanists themselves are under the restraint of
wholesome laws and public opinion; but were the popes of modern days to
be supported by sovereigns like Charles IX. of France, or were they
possessed of the same power as was once enjoyed by their predecessors,
is it reasonable to suppose, that the principles which are still
retained, would not be carried out into practice; or that the same
scenes, which then disgraced the civilized world, would not again be
enacted in every country, in which the jesuits and other active
emissaries of the papacy could obtain a footing?

Is it not clear from the preceding facts, that the murderers of Henry
III. and IV. and the actors in the massacre of St. Bartholomew
considered that they were acting a meritorious part? They were taught
that the pope could depose kings and grant their kingdoms to others; and
they knew that the pope had often exercised that power. The Gunpowder
conspirators were men of the same class and influenced by the same
views. Knowing that all heretics are annually excommunicated, they
believed that they were authorized to carry the sentence into effect;
and having been taught that heretical princes might lawfully be deposed,
they considered themselves at liberty to attempt their destruction. The
assassins of the French monarchs and the Gunpowder traitors, being
encouraged by the authority of the church, as explained by their
spiritual directors, entered upon their deeds of darkness, with an
assurance, that they were merely obeying the commands of their ghostly

The pope endeavoured to clear himself from the guilt of being privy to
the Gunpowder Treason; yet some of the planners and contrivers of the
plot were protected at Rome. Had his holiness been sincere in his
professions to King James, he would have delivered up those jesuits who
were implicated in the treason, and who escaped to Rome. The surrender
of the conspirators would have been the strongest proof of his
sincerity. But not only did he not give them up to the sovereign, whose
life they had sought; he did not even call them to account for the part
which they had taken in the conspiracy. I would not charge the guilt of
that conspiracy on the members of the church of Rome indiscriminately,
for there were many who were horror-struck at the deed, and there always
have been many who did not receive all the principles maintained by the
church; but I contend, that the head of the church, the pope of that
day, approved of the act, or he would never have adopted the course
which he then pursued; and in his guilt all the leading members of the
conclave were also implicated. We can only judge of men by their
actions; which, if they mean any thing, certainly involve the church of
Rome of that period in the guilt of the treason. Garnet was regarded as
a martyr, not as a traitor; and the absurd miracle of the _Straw_, was
sanctioned at Rome. These facts certainly involve the then church of
Rome in the treason; and as her principles are unchanged, there would be
no security against the same practices, were circumstances to favour her

    [Footnote 31: Hallam remarks, “There seems, indeed, some ground
    for suspicion, that the Nuncio at Brussels was privy to the
    conspiracy; though this ought not to be asserted as an
    historical fact.” _Const. Hist._ i. 554.]

It is also worthy of remark, that the jesuits who were privy to the
design, and who escaped from the knife of the executioner, never
expressed the least remorse for the part they had taken; on the
contrary, they never failed to speak of the treason as a glorious and
meritorious deed. When Hall the jesuit, _alias_ Oldcorne, was reminded
of the ill success of the treason as a proof that it was displeasing to
God, he immediately replied, that the justice of the cause must not be
determined by the event, for that the eleven tribes were commanded by
God himself to fight against Benjamin, and were twice overthrown; and
that Lewis of France was conquered by the Turks. By reminding some of
his dispirited companions of many glorious enterprises, which had failed
in the first instance, he hoped to encourage them to persevere, and to
induce them to expect that God would, in the end, enable them to
accomplish their purposes. Who can deny, after these facts, that the
church of Rome was deeply involved in the gunpowder treason? Or who can
exculpate her, even at present, from the charge of maintaining
principles subversive of Christian liberty and Protestant governments?
When one of the conspirators, who was received by the governor of
Calais, was condoled with, on being banished his country, he replied,
“It is the least part of our grief that we are banished our native
country; this doth truly and heartily grieve us, that we could not bring
so generous and wholesome a design to perfection.”

Sir Everard Digby was a mild and amiable man, and, with the exception of
his participation in the plot, no stain rests upon his character; yet he
seems to have considered that, by engaging in this treason, he was
really doing God service. His letters, written during his imprisonment,
and published by Bishop Barlow in 1679, illustrate the influence of the
principles of the church of Rome on the mind of an otherwise excellent
individual. They were written with the juice of lemon, or something of
the same kind: written, too, when he had time to reflect in his solitary
cell, yet it is evident that he thought he was advancing the cause of
true religion in the part which he took; and, further, that he was never
convinced that the deed was sinful, so completely had the jesuitical
principles of the prime actors in the conspiracy warped his judgment and
influenced his views. The papers were discovered in the house of Charles
Cornwallis, Esq., who was the executor of Sir Kenelm Digby, the son and
heir of Sir Everard. They were once in the possession of Archbishop
Tillotson, as he testifies in one of his sermons.

The letters were by some secret means conveyed to his lady, and were
preserved in the family as sacred relics. “Sir Everard Digby,” says
Archbishop Tillotson in his sermon on the fifth of November, “whose very
original papers and letters are now in my hands, after he was in prison,
and knew he must suffer, calls it the best cause, and was extremely
troubled to hear it censured by Catholics and priests, contrary to his
expectations, for a great sin.” The letters were also, once in the
possession of Bishop Burnet, as he himself informs us. From him we learn
how they were discovered. “The family being ruined upon the death of Sir
Kenelm’s son, when the executors were looking out for writings to make
out the titles of the estates they were to sell, they were directed by
an old servant to a cupboard that was very artificially hid, in which
some papers lay that she had observed _Sir Kenelm_ was oft reading.
They, looking into it, found a velvet bag, within which, there were two
other silk bags, (so carefully were those relics kept) and there was
within these a collection of all the letters that _Sir Everard_ writ
during his imprisonment.”

A few extracts will show what his sentiments were concerning the plot.

“Now, for my intention let me tell you, that if I had thought there had
been the least sin in the plot, I would not have been of it for all the
world; and no other cause drew me to hazard my fortune and life, but
zeal to God’s religion. For my keeping it secret, it was caused by
certain belief, that those which were best able to judge of the
lawfulness of it, had been acquainted with it, and given way unto it.”

“Now, let me tell you, what a grief it hath been to me, to hear that so
much condemned, which I did believe would have been otherwise thought on
by Catholics.”

“Oh! how full of joy should I die, if I could do any thing for the cause
which I love more than my life.”

On the proceedings which were to have been adopted in the event of the
success of the plot, Sir Everard remarks:

“There was also a course taken to have given present notice to all
princes, and to associate them with an oath, answerable to the league in

Respecting the pope’s concurrence he has the following passage:

“Before that I knew any thing of the plot, I did ask Mr. Farmer, what
the meaning of the pope’s brief was: he told me that they were not
(meaning priests) to undertake or procure stirs; but yet they would not
hinder any, neither was it the pope’s mind they should, that should be
undertaken for Catholic good. I did never utter thus much, nor would not
but to you; and this answer, with Mr. Catesby’s proceedings with him and
me, gave me absolute belief that the matter in general was approved,
though every particular was not known.”

Then alluding to the presence of some Romanist peers at the opening of
parliament, he adds:

“I do not think there would have been three worth saving that should
have been lost.”

In another letter he observes:

“I could give unanswerable reasons, both for the good that this would
have done for the Catholic cause, and my being from home, but I think it
now needless, and for some respects unfit.”

The last letter is a long one, and is addressed to his sons; but though
he exhorts them to continue in the faith of the church of Rome, yet he
does not express any sorrow for his crime; nor does he caution them
against being engaged in similar conspiracies. It is, therefore, clear,
that he viewed the deed as laudable and meritorious, even at the close
of his career.

It appears certain that many of the Romanists, both at home and abroad,
were aware that some extensive conspiracy was on foot. A particular
prayer was used, it is said, by numbers in England, for the success of
the conspiracy; it was couched in the following terms: “Prosper, Lord,
their pains, that labour in thy cause day and night; let heresy vanish
like smoke; let the memory of it perish with a crack, like the ruin and
fall of a broken house.” It would appear that this prayer was framed by
one who was privy to the conspiracy; nor can it be doubted that it was
intended to convey some intimation of the nature of the treason. I am,
aware, that no Romanist would in the present day justify the deed; but
the preceding facts prove, that the act was applauded and justified at
the time by the whole church almost, and for a considerable period
afterwards. To justify the treason now, would be to expose the parties
who did so, to the execration of an indignant public. The principles of
Rome, however, are exactly what they were when the bulls of the pope
were sent to Garnet, and when the gunpowder treason was planned.
Tillotson forcibly observes, “I would not be understood to charge every
particular person, who is, or hath been in the Roman communion, with the
guilt of those or the like practices; but I must charge their doctrines
and principles with them. I must charge the heads of their church, and
the prevalent teaching and governing part of it, who are usually the
contrivers and abettors, the executioners and applauders of these cursed

    [Footnote 32: TILLOTSON’S _Works_, 12mo., Vol. i., 349.]

It was decided by Pope Urban II. that it was neither treason nor murder
to kill those, who were excommunicated by the church. So that any
treason or murder could be justified on such principles. Nor has any
change been effected in the principles of the church of Rome. “Popery,”
says Burnet, “cannot change its nature, and _cruelty and breach of faith
to heretics_, are as necessary parts of that religion, as
_transubstantiation_ and the _pope’s supremacy_[33].” Andrew Marvel
wittily remarks of the pope’s claim, “He has, indeed, of late, been
somewhat more retentive than formerly as to his faculty of disposing of
kingdoms, the thing not having succeeded well with him in some
instances, but he lays the same claim still, continues the same
inclinations, and though velvet-headed hath the more itch to be pushing.
And, however, in order to any occasion he keeps himself in breath,
always by cursing one prince or other upon every Maundy Thursday[34].”

    [Footnote 33: BURNET’S _Eighteen Papers_, 84.]

    [Footnote 34: _The Growth of Popery_, p. 9.]



As the Act of Parliament which enjoins the observance of the Fifth of
November is not generally known, or at all events is not within the
reach of ordinary readers, I shall insert in this place. It was couched
in the following terms:—

“Forasmuch as Almighty God hath in all ages shewed his power and mercy,
in the miraculous and gracious deliverance of his Church, and in the
protection of religious kings and states, and that no nation of the
earth hath been blessed with greater benefits than this nation 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, enriched with a most hopeful
and plentiful progeny, proceeding out of his royal loins, promising
continuance of this happiness and profession to all posterity: the which
many malignant and devilish papists, jesuits, and seminary priests, much
envying and fearing, conspired most horribly when the king’s most
excellent majesty, the queen, the prince, and all the lords spiritual
and temporal, and commons, should have been assembled in the Upper House
of Parliament upon the Fifth day of November, in the year of our Lord
1605, suddenly to have blown up the said whole house with gunpowder: an
invention so inhuman, barbarous, and cruel, as the like was never
before heard of, and was (as some of the principal conspirators thereof
confess) purposely devised and concluded to be done in the said house,
that when sundry necessary and religious laws for preservation of the
church and state were made, which they falsely and slanderously call
cruel laws, enacted against them and their religion, both place and
person should be all destroyed and blown up at once, which would have
turned to the 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 interpret some dark phrases of a letter shewed to his
majesty, above and beyond all ordinary construction, thereby
miraculously discovering this hidden treason not many hours before the
appointed time for the execution thereof: therefore the king’s most
excellent majesty, the lords spiritual and temporal, and all his
majesty’s faithful and loving subjects, do most justly acknowledge this
great and infinite blessing to have proceeded merely from God his great
mercy, and to his most holy name do ascribe all honour, glory, and
praise: and to the end this unfeigned thankfulness may never be
forgotten, but be had in a perpetual remembrance, that all ages to come
may yield praises to his Divine Majesty for the same, and have in memory
this joyful day of deliverance:

“Be it therefore enacted, by the king’s most excellent majesty, the
lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons in this present parliament
assembled, and by the authority of the same, that all and singular
ministers in every cathedral, and parish-church, or other usual place
for common prayer, within this realm of England, and the dominions of
the same, shall always upon the Fifth day of November say morning
prayer, and give unto Almighty God thanks for this most happy
deliverance: and that all and every person and persons inhabiting within
this realm of England, and the dominions of the same, shall always upon
that day diligently and faithfully resort to the parish-church or chapel
accustomed, or to some usual church or chapel, where the said morning
prayer, preaching, or other service of God, shall be used, and then and
there to abide orderly and soberly during the time of the said prayers,
preaching, or other service of God there to be used and ministered.

“And because all and every person may be put in mind of his duty, and be
there better prepared to the said holy service, be it enacted by the
authority aforesaid, that every minister shall give warning to his
parishioners, publicly in the church at morning prayer, the Sunday
before every such Fifth day of _November_, for the due observation of
the said day. And that after morning prayer or preaching on the said
Fifth day of _November_, they read publicly, distinctly, and plainly,
the present Act[35].”

    [Footnote 35: I give the Act entire, because I am not aware that
    it is to be found in any popular form; and it is desirable that
    the present generation should know how this treason was viewed
    by their ancestors.]

A particular service was prepared to be used on the Fifth of November,
and was published in 1606. I have not been able to ascertain whether it
was framed by the convocation; but I am disposed to think that it was
arranged by the bishops, as is still the case in particular prayers on
special occasions, and then set forth by the authority of the crown. In
my copy of the original service printed by Barker and Bill, printers to
the king, the words “Set forth by authority,” stand on the title-page.
The authority of the crown is evidently intended, and not that of

The original service was used on this day until the alterations were
effected in 1662, except during the period of the Commonwealth, when
forms of prayer were altogether discarded. It appears, however, from
Fuller, that in his time, the observance of the day was very much
neglected. “If this plot,” says he, “had taken effect, the papists would
have celebrated this day with all solemnity; and it would have taken the
upper hand of all other festivals. The more, therefore, the shame and
pity, that amongst Protestants the keeping of this day (not yet full
fifty years old) begins already to wax weak and decay; so that the red
letters, wherever it is written, seem to grow dimmer and paler in our
English calendar. God forbid that our thankfulness for this great
deliverance, formerly so solemnly observed, should hereafter be like the
_squibs_ which the apprentices in London make on this day; and which
give a great flash and crack at first, but soon go out in a stink[36].”

    [Footnote 36: FULLER, book x. 38. From several of the incidental
    notices in the works of writers of the times of James I. and
    Charles I., we learn that the observance of the day was
    gradually neglected. In a curious work of the date of 1618,
    there is a notice to the effect that the people were cold in
    praising God for their deliverance. See GAREY’S _Amphitheatrum
    Scelerum_. 4to. 1618. In the reigns of Charles II. and James
    II., when the dread of popery was general, the people
    universally observed the Fifth of November as a day of
    thanksgiving to God.]

This was written, or, at all events, the work was published, during the
Commonwealth; and it would seem that the various religious parties of
the period, though hostile to popery, did not pay much attention to the
observance of the day, probably because it had been set apart as a holy
day by the church of England. The fact that the day was observed by the
Anglican church, was quite sufficient to induce the presbyterians and
sectaries to disregard it. On no other ground can I account for the
omission or neglect of which Fuller speaks; for the religious parties of
that period, were all animated with feelings of the bitterest hostility
towards the church of Rome.

After the restoration, the day was again solemnly observed in all the
churches of the kingdom; and when the Book of Common Prayer was revised
and set forth, the service for the Fifth of November was revised also,
and published with the Liturgy. The original service was submitted to
the convocation, by whom several alterations were made, which may be
seen by comparing the service published in 1606 with that which is
annexed to the Common Prayer subsequent to 1662, and which continued in
that state until after the Revolution. The title of the original service
is, _“Prayers and Thanksgiving to be used by all the King’s Majestie’s
loving Subjects, for the happy deliverance of his Majesty, the Queen,
Prince, and States of Parliament, from the most traiterous and bloody
intended massacre by gunpowder, the 5 of November, 1605.”_ In the
service as it was revised in 1662, some few alterations were made in the
title. They may be seen by any one, who compares the above with the
title in the service at present in use, for in this particular it has
undergone no change since 1662. In the commencement of the original
service are two verses from 1 Timothy ii. 1, 2: in the revised form of
1662 they are omitted. The rubrics, also, in the service of 1662,
respecting the method to be adopted when the day falls upon a Sunday or
holy-day, are not found in the service of 1606. The psalms appointed to
be read are also different in the two services. In the service as
altered in 1662, and as it stands at present, one of the homilies
against rebellion is appointed to be read, whenever there is no sermon,
while in that of 1606, no mention is made of anything of the kind[37].

    [Footnote 37: I notice these alterations, because the original
    service is very rare, and consequently accessible only to a

The service of 1662, like the original, was framed to commemorate one
event only, namely, the deliverance from the gunpowder plot; but when
King William came to the throne, it was deemed desirable, as he had
landed on the same day, to commemorate that event also. It became
necessary, therefore, to alter the service so as to make it suit both
events; _first_, the deliverance from the gunpowder treason; and
_secondly_, the deliverance of the country from popish tyranny and
superstition by the arrival of King William. It has been supposed, that
the service was altered into its present state by the convocation in
1689; but there is no evidence to prove that such was the case. It seems
pretty certain that it was altered by the authority of the crown. A
twofold deliverance, therefore, is commemorated in the present _service_
for the Fifth of November; _first_, from the powder plot, and _next_,
from popery coming in upon the country in a manner more insidious, but
not less dangerous in 1688, when the king on the throne was a papist,
and all possible means were used to establish the papal ascendancy.

It was very natural, that the country should have been struck with the
circumstance of King William’s landing on the Fifth of November,—a day
so remarkable in the calendar of the English church. To the Roman
Catholics the observance of this day is anything but agreeable; but they
can scarcely censure Englishmen for commemorating an event so favourable
to Protestantism. Had such a conspiracy been discovered against the
church of Rome, all papists would regard the day with special reverence.
Protestants are surely to be permitted to enjoy the same liberty, in
celebrating the merciful interposition of Providence in rescuing the
country from destruction.

By some modern writers, the _Revolution_ of 1688 is designated a
_Rebellion_! It is astonishing, that any Protestant should speak of that
event in such terms; since Queen Victoria must be an usurper, if the
revolution was a rebellion. To the principles then established, our
queen is indebted for her crown; and we are indebted to the same
principles, for our civil and religious liberties. The men, who can call
the revolution a rebellion, cannot be members of the church of England;
for had not King James been expelled from the throne, the Anglican
church would have been destroyed. Rebellions can never be lawful; but
revolutions, similar to that in 1688, are perfectly just. Such men can
never read the Service appointed for the _Fifth of November_; at all
events, they cannot read the following passages:—“Accept also, most
gracious God, of our unfeigned thanks, for filling our hearts again with
joy and gladness, after the time that thou hadst afflicted us, and
putting a new song into our mouths, by bringing his majesty King
_William_, upon this day, for the deliverance of our church and nation
from popish tyranny and arbitrary power.” And again, “And didst likewise
upon this day, wonderfully conduct thy servant King _William_, and bring
him safely into _England_, to preserve us from the attempts of our
enemies to bereave us of our religion and laws.” And the following, “We
bless thee for giving his late majesty King _William_ a safe arrival
here, and for making all opposition fall before him, till he became our
king and governor.” It is not possible that the men, who can call the
revolution a rebellion, should concur in those prayers. Had these
individuals lived at the time, they would have quitted the church with
the nonjurors; and with such views, respecting the revolution
settlement, I cannot conceive how they can conscientiously remain in a
church connected with, and supported by a government which owes its very
existence to that event, which they designate a rebellion. Is it not
high time for such men to quit the pale of the Anglican church?

The dangers which threatened the country during the reign of James II.
were very great; and their removal can only be ascribed to Him, in whose
hands are the issues of life. James was determined to reduce the country
into subjection to the papal see, or lose all in the attempt. William
III. was the destined instrument under God, to secure the liberties,
which James laboured with all his might to destroy. The revolution of
1688 was a bloodless one; yet it was complete. It is always dangerous to
alter the succession to the crown; it is a expedient never to be
resorted to except in extreme danger. In 1688, the departure from the
direct line was an act of necessity; for unless such a course had been
adopted, the liberties of England, both temporal and spiritual, would
have been sacrificed. Nor can any one say how long the country would
have been in recovering them from the grasp of the papacy. In such an
emergency the nation looked to the prince of Orange, who responded to
the call, and came to our rescue. When King James quitted the country,
and all hope of his being prevailed upon to govern justly was lost, the
people saw the necessity of departing from the direct line of
succession. Still they were resolved to depart as little as possible.
They looked therefore to the next Protestant heir, being determined to
exclude papists from the throne for ever. That _heir_ was the princess
of Orange, the daughter of King James; and as the prince had been so
instrumental in rescuing the nation from the yoke, he was associated
with her in the government. James, therefore, would not have been
rejected if he had governed righteously; but when he had deserted the
throne, it was determined that it should never again be filled with a
papist. Such were the principles on which the revolution was conducted.

When the prince of Orange set sail from Holland, he was driven back by
contrary winds; and it was feared that the attempt would fail, and that
King James would succeed in his designs. A second time, however, were
the sails unfurled, and a propitious wind bore the fleet to the coast of
Devon, where a landing was effected on the Fifth of November, 1688.

The Fifth of November, 1605, and the Fifth of November, 1688, are
remarkable days in the annals of England—days never to be forgotten by
a grateful people. Had not the prince of Orange arrived, James would
have imposed his yoke upon the English nation. Had he not been resisted,
the laws and liberties of the country must have been prostrated in the
dust, and the church of England sacrificed to popery.

King James, as a papist, felt himself bound to make every effort to
restore popery, and root out Protestantism. All his actions tended to
this point. Motives of policy even did not restrain him in the course
upon which he had entered. His proceedings, therefore, were against the
liberties of the people, and the laws of the land; and on this account
alone was he set aside. The parliament acted as a Protestant parliament,
and enacted a law, that none but a Protestant should ever occupy the
British throne. The parliament of that day well knew that the same
principles would be productive of similar results, and that
Protestantism, and the civil liberties of the nation, would be
endangered by a popish king. Now, had not King William arrived, James
would have been able to execute all his projects respecting the church
and nation; so that every Protestant has reason to be thankful for the
success, which attended the efforts of William III., and to observe the
_Fifth of November_ as a day of thanksgiving to God for his gracious

Never was a people less disposed to rise against their sovereign than
were the English against James II. Yet, as he was trampling upon their
liberties, and preparing a yoke of spiritual bondage, what could they
do? Their rights as men and as Christians were at stake; nor could the
danger by which they were threatened, be averted, but by the expulsion
of that sovereign, who had broken his solemn promise, and proved himself
unworthy of being trusted again by his subjects. Our ancestors at the
period of the revolution, acted on the principle of self-defence. It was
necessary to deprive him of his royal power, when that power would have
been employed in depriving the people of their civil and religious

It was admitted by an illustrious statesman in France, in the
seventeenth century, that it was the true interest of England to
maintain and defend her Protestant church against popery. As his
observations are so striking, and also so applicable to our present
circumstances, I shall not hesitate to quote them. The book bears this
title, _The Interest of the Princes and States of Christendom_, and
consists of several chapters, in each of which he treats of _The
Interest_ of a particular country. There is a chapter on _The Interest
of England_, from which I quote the following passages: “Queen Elizabeth
(who by her prudent government hath equalled the greatest kings of
Christendom), knowing well the disposition of her state, believed that
the true interest thereof consisted, _first_ in holding a firm union in
itself, deeming (as it is most true) that _England is a mighty animal,
which can never die except it kill itself_. She grounded this
fundamental maxim, _to banish thence the exercise of the Roman
religion_, as the only means to break all the plots of the _Spaniards_,
who under this pretext, did there foment rebellion.” Alluding to some
other particulars of that reign he adds:—“By all these maxims, this
wise princess has made known to her successors that besides the interest
which the king of England has with all princes, he has yet one
_particular_, which is that, _he ought_ thoroughly to acquire the
advancement of the Protestant religion, even with as much zeal as the
King of Spain appears protector of the Catholic.” This was the language
of a statesman. King James, therefore, did not seek the _interest_ of
his country, but _that_ of the papacy[38].

    [Footnote 38: See _The Interest of the Princes and States of
    Christendom, by the Duke De Rohan, translated into English by H.
    H._ Page 53, 12mo. 1641.]

A few words will suffice to shew that King James intended to subvert the
liberties of his subjects, to root out Protestantism, and to
re-establish popery.

In his first speech to his parliament, he promised to support the church
of England as by law established; yet, two days after his accession, he
went publicly to mass. The very same year he appointed several popish
officers to posts in the army, in direct violation of the statute passed
in the late reign on this subject. In 1686, he endeavoured to induce the
twelve judges to declare the legality of the _dispensing power_. While
under the direction of a jesuit, his confessor, a majority of papists
were introduced into his council; and at the same period several popish
bishops were publicly consecrated in St. James’s Chapel, contrary to the
laws of the land. Many of his nobles were removed from their offices of
trust and honour, simply for refusing to embrace popery, while the
clergy were commanded not to introduce controversial topics into their
sermons; and because Sharp, subsequently archbishop of York, refused to
comply with the royal order, he was prosecuted in the courts of justice,
and his diocesan, the bishop of London, was actually suspended for
refusing to censure him contrary to law. In 1687, under the pretence of
relieving the dissenters, he dispensed with the penal laws, in order
that popery might be propagated under cover of a toleration. In 1688,
seven bishops were committed to the Tower, for no other crime than that
of petitioning his majesty in favour of the civil and religious
liberties of the country. At length, when the king’s designs were
obvious to all men, the prince of Orange was applied to by the general
consent of the English nation. That great prince responded to the call,
and, after some little delay at sea, landed on our shores on the Fifth
of November, 1688, and completed the deliverance of the country from the
yoke of bondage. Well, therefore, may this event be coupled with the
deliverance of this nation from the Gunpowder Treason of 1605.

It must strike the reader as very strange, that in matters of religion,
we should not be left at liberty to act for ourselves, without the
interference of the pope and the Roman church. This very fact shows,
that her claim of supremacy is an essential part of her system. The
church of England, the papists allege, has made a departure from the
church of Christ. This would be a grievous charge, if it could be
proved. The church of Christ commands nothing but what is comformable to
the Saviour’s will; nor does she require her children to believe
anything, which is not expressly contained in the Scriptures, or by
evident consequence deduced from those sacred oracles. It is, therefore,
false to assert, that the church of England has made a separation from
the church of Christ. She merely opposes those dogmas, which cannot be
proved from sacred scripture. So far from separating from the church of
Christ, she did not even separate from the church of Rome. The church of
England, in a lawful synod, assembled early in the reign of Queen
Elizabeth, declared certain opinions, which were held by some in her
communion, to be contrary to the word of God. This power the church of
England ever possessed; and ages before the Reformation she had often
exercised it. This power had been wrested from the church of England by
force; and at the Reformation she recovered it. William the Conqueror,
and many of his successors, though sons of the Roman church, yet acted
as independently as Queen Elizabeth. For ages our kings did not permit
letters to be received from Rome without being submitted to their
inspection: they did not permit any councils to be held without their
permission; so that ecclesiastical councils were at length termed
convocations, and were always assembled by the authority of the crown.
They did not permit any synodical decree to take effect, but with their
concurrence, and confirmation. Bishops could not excommunicate any baron
or great officer without the royal precept; or if they did, they were
called to account for their conduct in the courts of law. They never
permitted a legate from the pope to enter England, but by express
consent; nor did they suffer appeals to Rome, as was the case when the
encroachments of the papacy were further advanced. Frequently they would
not permit bishops to be confirmed in their sees by the pope, but
commanded the archbishop of Canterbury to give possession to the
individuals appointed to fill them. These are a few instances in which
our kings in ancient times exercised a power in ecclesiastical affairs
independent of the pope; and, therefore, Queen Elizabeth had a full
right to act as her predecessors had done for so many ages. The same
power had been possessed and exercised by every national church from the
earliest times. She proceeded, therefore, to correct abuses; and the
pope and his followers, without even examining the matter, and setting
at nought the ancient privileges of the kingdom, designated this
procedure a departure from the church. The pope wished to impose, as
articles of belief, certain doctrines, which had no foundation in
Scripture: the English church refused to receive them; and the pope
condemned us as schismatics and heretics. Yet, in all reason those who
depart from the Bible, not those who adhere to it, must be the heretics.
To impose these same articles of belief the Gunpowder Treason was
planned! To impose the same, James II. resorted to those means, which
are so well known as having caused him the loss of his crown. To
commemorate our deliverance from such an authority—from such a yoke of
bondage—and from such cruel tyranny, the Fifth of November was ordered
by act of parliament to be for ever kept holy. That act is still in
force; and I am convinced that it will remain in force; for no minister
of the crown, however inclined to favour and conciliate the Papists,
will ever be so rash as to call for a repeal of that act. Such an
attempt would rouse the Protestant feeling of the empire: it would be
viewed as a precursor of the complete ascendency of popery. I am
convinced that the repeal of the act, if such a thing were carried,
would cause the Protestants of England to observe the day with more
solemnity than has ever been practised since the passing of the act. Our
churches would be opened for worship; our pulpits would resound with the
full declaration of the truths of our holy religion against the devices
and the corruptions of popery; and the loud song of praise and
thanksgiving would be offered up from England’s twelve thousand
parishes, with such ardour and devotional zeal, that no attempt to crush
the expression of public feeling would succeed. If, therefore, a
popishly affected ministry should ever venture to repeal the act, they
will be under the necessity, if they would repress the demonstration of
popular feeling, of passing another act to prevent the doors of our
churches from being opened, and the people from assembling together to
praise God on the “Fifth of November.”

In alluding to the observance of the day, Burnet remarks, “Now our Fifth
of November is to be enriched by a second service, since God has
ennobled it so far, as to be the beginning of that which we may justly
hope shall be our complete deliverance from all plots and conspiracies;
and that this second day shall darken, if not quite wear out the
former[39].” To us in the present day both deliverances may be recalled
with equal advantage. Both were wonderful! Both demand a tribute of
gratitude from all who love the religion of the Bible. Burnet observes
in the same sermon, “You who saw the state of things three months ago,
could never have thought that so total a revolution could have been
brought about so easily as if it had been only the shifting of scenes.
These are speaking instances to let you see of what consequence it is to
a nation to have the Lord for its God. We have seen it hitherto in so
eminent a manner, that we are forced to conclude that we are under a
special influence of heaven: and since in God there is no variableness,
nor shadow of turning, we must confess that, if there comes any change
in God’s methods towards us, it arises only out of our ingratitude and
unworthiness.” He then states that, if the advantages so conferred are
not duly appreciated and improved, more dreadful calamities than those
lately expected will overtake the country. When addressing the Commons
on their duties relative to religious matters, he tells them that one
important duty is, “to secure us for ever, as far as human wisdom and
the force of law can do it, from ever falling under the just
apprehensions of the return of idolatry any more amongst us, and the
making the best provision possible against those dangers that lay on us
so lately[40].”

    [Footnote 39: BURNET’S _Thanksgiving Sermon before the Commons,
    Jan. 31, 1688-1689_.]

    [Footnote 40: Ibid. pp. 31, 32.]

I am disposed to think, that the act of parliament by which the
observance of the day is enjoined, is not read, in the present day, in
our churches: some of the clergy have never even seen it. The present
work is intended to call the attention of churchmen, and especially of
the clergy, to this important subject. Should I be assured, that any of
my brethren have been led, by the perusal of this volume, to regard the
day with more solemnity than usual, I shall feel myself amply
recompensed for my labours. At the period of the Revolution, and for
many years after, the act, as we learn from incidental notices of
contemporary writers, was always read by the clergy from the pulpits.
The people were then fully sensible of the deliverance, which had been
completed on that day; while the clergy invariably directed the
attention of their parishioners to the subject; and both clergy and
people presented their tribute of gratitude to that gracious Being from
whom all good things proceed. And why should the present generation be
less mindful of the great deliverance than their ancestors? We have just
as much reason to be thankful as the men of that generation; for if the
papists had succeeded in their designs, not only would the liberties of
that age have been sacrificed, but those also of succeeding periods. May
the Protestants of this kingdom never be forgetful of the glorious Arm
by which our salvation from papal thraldom and error was alone effected!
It is generally allowed that a retrospection into the transactions of
past ages is as a glass, in which the clearest view of future events may
be obtained: for, by comparing things together, we shall arrive at this
conclusion, that men of the same principles will always, either directly
or indirectly, aim at the same ends. The end, which all Romanists have
in view, is the destruction of the church of England as the greatest
bulwark of Protestantism. In past ages this end was sought to be
accomplished directly by treason and murder; in the present day the end
is attempted by secret means, by an affectation of moderation, and by
an avowal of sentiments which are not in reality maintained. Let
Protestants ever bear in mind, that the same causes will generally
produce the same effects, though the means employed may be varied
according to times and circumstances. Ever since the revolution in 1688,
popery, in this country, has worn a mask; but the papal party are now
venturing to cast it aside, and to appear in their real character.
Within the last few years scenes have been exhibited in this Protestant
land, which our ancestors would never for one moment have tolerated.
Many Protestants are lukewarm amid these ominous proceedings. May they
be aroused from their present apathy into a spirit worthy of the men, by
whom our deliverance from papal tyranny was effected in ONE THOUSAND SIX


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Transcriber’s Note: The table below lists all corrections applied to the
original text.

p. 049: [punctuation] on the subject by Catesby, -> Catesby.
p. 059: apparent at Chring-cross -> Charing-cross
p. 075: [added period] proceeded to pronounce judgment.
p. 096: [added period] publicly avowed and defended.
p. 111: were twice overthown -> overthrown
p. 132: I shall fell myself -> feel

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